Prince William opens up on his mental health when working as air ambulance pilot
The Duke of Cambridge has opened up about the emotional challenges he faced working as an air ambulance pilot, as he called for better mental health support for emergency workers.
Prince William talked about his own experiences working for the East Anglian Air Ambulance during a visit to Belfast to mark Emergency Services Day in the UK.
“I couldn’t put my finger on it, but you just felt very sad,” he said during a workshop with emergency first responders talking about how they deal with the traumatic events they witness.
“For me it was the sadness, I really felt the sadness, I’d absorb the jobs I’d gone to,” he said.
“Sadly with the Air Ambulance you get a lot of deaths and I didn’t realise (the impact) – I would go to the next one and the next one.”
The prince was a pilot with East Anglian Air Ambulance from 2015 to 2017.
The need to break down the stigma around mental health has been a cornerstone of the duke’s work for some time, but in the coming months he is expected to focus on the need to get better training and support across the blue light services.
On Tuesday, he convened the first meeting of leaders from all the UK’s emergency services to specifically focus on the issue. He hopes by setting up the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board he can encourage them to share best practice around emotional support.
During a speech at the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s training college, he stressed the need for society to look after its 999 responders.
He said: “I know first hand, that even in routine circumstances, those of you on the frontline can face immense challenges that can naturally have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health. Firstly, it’s important that we recognise that. And secondly, it’s important that we do all we can to support you through it.”
William also met with members of the Community Rescue Service (CRS) at Belfast Castle and watched volunteers taking part in a training exercise to find missing people.
The CRS responds to over 400 high risk missing persons and emergency incidents every year.
Talking to volunteers about how they emotionally support each other, William said: “You’re the ambassadors for the community, thank you so much.
“You are the foundations of the community, you are the backbone of that…that’s not to be sniffed at, that’s something very special.”
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