Prince William’s surprising admission during a mental health discussion with Jacinda Ardern

''Not one celebrity wanted to join us.''
Prince William Mental Health World Economic Forum

While speaking at the Mental Health Matters panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland overnight, Prince William revealed that not a single celebrity wanted to work with him on his Heads Together campaign because of the stigma surrounding mental health.

The Heads Together campaign was launched in 2016 by William, Duchess Catherine and Prince Harry after the three royals decided to band together to challenge the rhetoric around mental health and change how it is perceived.

“The work I’ve been doing, charities to do with addiction, homelessness, veteran’s welfare, young disadvantaged people, it all started to merge – that there was one topic at the heart at everything that was being discussed,” William explained to the panel.

“And the work my brother, my wife was doing as well, we all sat down after quite a few years of doing this and things and we started realising that there was this sort of elephant in the room, if you like, that had never been grappled, and it crossed between all the different sectors and all the different organisations that we were working with, and mental health was the thing.”

The royal trio launched the Heads Together campaign to break the stigma around mental health. (Source: Getty)

The Duke explained the campaign’s goal was to tackle the stigma around mental health, because if that could happen, “that was one thing that would allow these mental health charities to do more of their work and be able to reach more people and allow people to come forward.”

He was surprised, however, to find that not a single celebrity wanted to join the royal trio to support the launch of the campaign.

“What was interesting, when we set up the campaign was that not one celebrity wanted to join us, not one person wanted to be involved in the mental health campaign Heads Together,” William reveals.

“We went out to a lot of people and nobody, before we started, was interested in being part of Heads Together, because it was mental health… that was three years ago. And that was a big deal.”

Now, William says things have slowly begun to change, “Once we started showing people a lot more of what we were going to do, people realised Catherine, Harry and I put our necks on the line here – that actually maybe it was OK, we could join.”

William is attending the World Economic Forum to discuss a number of topics including climate change. Image: Getty

The Duke of Cambridge also opened up about his own struggles with mental health, revealing that during his time working with the air ambulance service, some of the scenes he encountered were “very difficult to talk about” and there was one incident so traumatic he didn’t think he would “ever get over” it.

He sought help, and says “I know that if I hadn’t taken the action I that did then I would have definitely gone down a slippery slope and I would have been dealing with mental health on a different level.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also sat on the panel, discussing New Zealand’s first ‘wellbeing budget’, that will be presented to parliament in May. She also talked about the importance of early detection and awareness, acknowledging that it was a topic close to her and many other Kiwis, saying, “Unfortunately one of the sad facts about New Zealand is that everyone knows someone who has taken their own life.”

“We’re a small country, less than 5 million people, but last year over 600 people committed suicide and of course, that is only one marker of wellbeing.”

“I have lost friends,” she said “and I wouldn’t have to look far in my cabinet to find other people who have too.”

She praised William for speaking out, saying “I just don’t think you can underestimate the power at an international level of you having spoken so openly.”

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, call 0800 111 757 or text 4202 to talk to a trained Depression Helpline counsellor for free. For other mental health issues, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354, the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 TAUTOKO or Youthline on 0800 376 633.

Related stories