Prince William revealed he didn’t want to ‘burden’ wife Kate and his family with the stresses and strains of his job as an Air Ambulance pilot as he launched a mental health scheme for emergency responders.
The Duke of Cambridge, 39, who flew as a medic for two years with the East Anglian Air Ambulance until 2017, said he felt a great deal of ‘solidarity’ with his team but that he struggled with how to process his experiences at home.
‘I often think about my time working for RAF Search and Rescue and the East Anglia Air Ambulance,’ he told the Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium in London.
‘I remember the pressure of attending calls in the most stressful conditions, sometimes with tragic conclusions. I remember the sense of solidarity with my team, pulling together to do the best we could and sharing the weight of responsibility.
Prince William joined Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick (pictured) and Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid at the Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium, where he unveiled the Blue Light Together service for emergency responders
The Duke of Cambridge, 39, who flew as a medic for two years with the East Anglian Air Ambulance until 2017, said he felt a great deal of ‘solidarity’ with his team but that he struggled with how to process his experiences at home. Pictured, while on duty
Prince William revealed he didn’t want to ‘burden’ wife Kate and his family with the stresses and strains of his job as an Air Ambulance pilot as he launched a mental health scheme for emergency responders. Pictured, the royal at the event today
‘I also remember returning home with the stresses and strains of the day weighing on my mind, and wanting to avoid burdening my family with what I had seen.’
William joined Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid at the event, where he unveiled the Blue Light Together service for emergency responders.
Blue Light Together has been developed by The Royal Foundation with its partners and includes specialised information and advice to help emergency responders with their mental health, real-life stories and tips from serving personnel, and guides for employers so that they can support the wellbeing of their people.
As part of Blue Light Together, The Royal Foundation is developing a directory of therapists who have extensive experience of treating the complex mental health needs of emergency responders.
William said: ‘I am obviously delighted to join you all here today for the Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium.
‘I’m grateful to the national coordinating bodies for their support in convening today’s event, and I wanted to also welcome those joining online.
William drew on his personal experiences as he launched the new mental health service
Prince William said he is committed to providing to support to emergency responders
The Duke of Cambridge spent time speaking to leaders in the emergency services in the UK
‘It is the first time that senior leaders from across all four emergency services and all four nations have come together to discuss mental health.
‘This is a big moment. And this big moment comes at a critical time.
‘The past two years have been a sharp reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe to staff and volunteers from our police, fire, ambulance, and search and rescue services.
‘As we have heard, working as an emergency responder places significant strain on an individual’s mental health even in normal times. In a pandemic, for many it has been almost unmanageable.
‘They have been placed under inordinate amounts of pressure – not just professionally, but also personally.’
Cressida Dick, pictured, also delivered a speech at The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium
He added: ‘The network will be the first of its kind and will be available to the entire emergency responder community. The therapists will be given ongoing bespoke training and support to enable them to provide emergency responders with the best possible care.’
Earlier William joined emergency responder couple, Will and Chloe, to discuss how they coped with their mental health during the Covid-19 crisis.
During the conversation, which was recorded last week and posted on William’s official YouTube channel today, the Duke also shared his own experiences of working in the air ambulance service.
The father-of-three explained he was ‘really affected’ during jobs where children were involved, adding: ‘For me, it was the relation with my personal life with the family and the incident I was at. I found that very difficult.’
Prince William, 39, has opened up about how fatherhood impacted his work in the air ambulance service in a new YouTube video
The Duke explained: ‘People want to protect their families and loved-ones from horrendous and horrible and very sad things.
‘But you’re leading two very different lives and you’re blocking your loved-ones out from a very important part of who you are and who you are becoming.
‘There’s nothing in the training to promote that so we’re meant to individually adapt. But you might not have the toolbox you need to deal with all these things. We need the training and education to help.’
Prince William confessed: ‘When I was in the air ambulance, any job I went to with children, that really affected me.
‘Much more than I think if I hadn’t had children actually. For me, it was the relation with my personal life with the family and the incident I was at. I found that very difficult.’
He continued: ‘There were a number of times when I had to take myself away because I was just getting too involved in it and feeling it.
‘Then I’d go to talk to someone else after the event was really important, but it continues. It doesn’t really leave you there, you just manage it better.’
Prince William worked as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance for 18 months between 2015 and 2017, before stepping down to take on more Royal roles on behalf of the Queen.