Prince William and Lady Gaga have joined forces to encourage more people to have an open conversation about mental health as part of the Heads Together #oktosay film series.
The Royal Family’s Facebook page hosted the World Premiere of a new film of the pair in conversation over FaceTime from their respective homes in London and Los Angeles. They discussed the powerful films that have been released showing people from all walks of life discussing their mental health challenges under the #oktosay banner. Lady Gaga praised them for the ‘beautiful stories’ they told.
Last year Lady Gaga released an open letter through her Born This Way Foundation revealing that she lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Duke was hugely impressed with the openness displayed in the letter and asked Lady Gaga to get involved with the Heads Together campaign.
In their FaceTime call they discussed how opening up and having conversations about mental health was vital to shatter the stigma that still surrounds these issues. Lady Gaga said she felt people with mental health challenges were ‘not hiding anymore’ with The Duke adding that it is time ‘to feel normal about mental health – it’s the same as physical health’ and that good conversations can ‘really make such a difference.’
The Duke and Lady Gaga also made plans to meet in the UK in October to discuss how they can work together and do more to tackle stigma on mental health with Lady Gaga saying ‘we have to make the strongest, most relentless attempt we can to normalise mental health issues.’ They want to have a particular focus on young people.
In the film Prince William said:
“It’s time that everyone speaks up and really feels very normal about mental health, it’s the same as physical health. Everybody has mental health and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it and just having a conversation with a friend or family member can really make such a difference.”
“It’s really important to have this conversation and that you won’t be judged. It’s so important to break open that fear and that taboo which is only going to lead to more problems down the line.”
In the film Lady Gaga said:
“Even though it was hard, (it was) the best thing that could come out of my mental illness was to share it with other people and let our generation, as well as other generations know that if you are feeling not well in your mind that you’re not alone and that people that you think would never have a problem, do.”
“We have to make the strongest, most relentless attempt we can to normalise mental health issues, so that people feel like they can come forward.”
The Heads Together campaign, led by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, today also released new YouGov research on the way young people talk about their mental health, including how they increasingly use phones, emails and social media for these conversations.
The YouGov research published today shows that people aged 18-24 are talking more often than older age groups about their mental health but that they are more likely to talk to a friend and less comfortable talking to family members or the GP, than other age groups. It also shows that young people are much more likely than other age groups to start a conversation about their own mental health via text, email or a social media chat (full results summary below).
The #Oktosay films have been published on the Heads Together YouTube page and website and feature a wide range of people including familiar faces such as Stephen Fry, footballer Rio Ferdinand, Stephen Manderson (Professor Green), Cricketer Freddie Flintoff, comedian Ruby Wax, writer Alastair Campbell and model Adwoa Aboah. The films have been released in the run up to the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon, for which Heads Together has the privilege of being the Official Charity of the Year.
Heads Together Charity and Founding Partners have also begun to create their own films showing that it is OK to say. The Mix and Young Minds have released films showing young people talking about their mental health and both Dixons and Unilever have published films showing employees talking to each other about pressures to their mental health. All films tagged with #oktosay are being brought together on to the Heads Together YouTube page.
Recent YouGov research commissioned by Heads Together shows that eight out of ten people who have talked about their own mental health feel that it has helped and the campaign hopes that people who see the films will be encouraged to have their own conversation.
In a statement issued when the films series launched The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry said:
“Attitudes to mental health are at a tipping point. We hope these films show people how simple conversations can change the direction of an entire life. Please share them with your friends and families and join us in a national conversation on mental health in the weeks ahead.”
Films already released and on the Heads Together YouTube page and website include: Katie and Sarah, two mums of young children; musician Stephen Manderson (Professor Green) and Cricketer Freddie Flintoff; a journalist Annie and her friend Naa-Affie; comedian Ruby Wax and her husband Ed; Dan and Rich, two paramedics based in Blackpool; model Adwoa Aboah with her mum; a London blogger, Jo, and her mum, Sue; and writer Alastair Campbell talking with his partner, Fiona.
The films Lady Gaga references during the call with Prince William – Annie and Jo’s – can be watched here;
Annie & Naa-Affie
Jo & Sue
Social Media: hashtag #HeadsTogether #OkToSay,
Twitter: @kensingtonroyal / @Heads_Together / /@Contact_AF / @KingsloPPN / @kcmhr
Instagram: KensingtonRoyal / Heads_Together
Facebook: @TheBritishMonarchy / @HeadsTogetherCampaign
About Heads Together:
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to build on the great work that is already taking place across the country, to ensure that people feel comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing, feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times, and that fear no longer prevents people talking or getting the help they need.
Heads Together brings together a team of Charity Partners that have achieved great progress in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health problems. The team covers a wide range of mental health issues that are close to The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry’s passions. They are: Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families; Best Beginnings; CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably; Contact (a military mental health coalition); Mind; Place2Be; The Mix; YoungMinds.
The privilege of being the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year gives Heads Together a positive platform to raise funds for the support provided by the campaign’s charity partners and to start millions of conversations.
The Heads Together campaign is being generously supported by The Julia & Hans Rausing Trust, ShareGift and the first three Heads Together Founding Partners – Dixons Carphone, Unilever UK and Virgin Money. This support will help amplify the aims of the campaign as well as fund specific projects designed to help us all with mental health.
About Born This Way Foundation:
Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2012 to support the wellness of young people and empower them to
create a kinder and braver world. To achieve these goals, Born This Way Foundation leverages rigorous academic research and authentic partnerships in order to provide young people with kinder communities, improved mental health resources, and more positive environments – online and offline. Working with more than 50 non-profit organizations, Born This Way Foundation has connected tens of thousands of young people with services and programing in their communities. The Foundation is also working to improve understanding of the factors that affect youth wellness and empowerment, collecting data from more than 15,000 young people as part of its Born Brave Experience Survey. Learn more at bornthisway.foundation.
Lady Gaga’s open letter, published on 6th December 2016: https://bornthisway.foundation/personal-letter-gaga/
Head stuck in a cycle, I look off and I stare – a personal letter from Gaga;
“I have wrestled for some time about when, how and if I should reveal my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After five years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am finally well enough to tell you. There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it’s important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery.
It is a daily effort for me, even during this album cycle, to regulate my nervous system so that I don’t panic over circumstances that to many would seem like normal life situations. Examples are leaving the house or being touched by strangers who simply want to share their enthusiasm for my music.
I also struggle with triggers from the memories I carry from my feelings of past years on tour when my needs and requests for balance were being ignored. I was overworked and not taken seriously when I shared my pain and concern that something was wrong. I ultimately ended up injured on the Born This Way Ball. That moment and the memory of it has changed my life forever. The experience of performing night after night in mental and physical pain ingrained in me a trauma that I relive when I see or hear things that remind me of those days.
I also experience something called dissociation which means that my mind doesn’t want to relive the pain so “I look off and I stare” in a glazed over state. As my doctors have taught me, I cannot express my feelings because my pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls logical, orderly thought) is overridden by the amygdala (which stores emotional memory) and sends me into a fight or flight response. My body is in one place and my mind in another. It’s like the panic accelerator in my mind gets stuck and I am paralyzed with fear.
When this happens I can’t talk. When this happens repeatedly, it makes me have a common PTSD reaction which is that I feel depressed and unable to function like I used to. It’s harder to do my job. It’s harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder. Additionally, when I am unable to regulate my anxiety, it can result in somatization, which is pain in the body caused by an inability to express my emotional pain in words.
But I am a strong and powerful woman who is aware of the love I have around me from my team, my family and friends, my doctors and from my incredible fans who I know will never give up on me. I will never give up on my dreams of art and music. I am continuing to learn how to transcend this because I know I can. If you relate to what I am sharing, please know that you can too.
Traditionally, many associate PTSD as a condition faced by brave men and women that serve countries all over the world. While this is true, I seek to raise awareness that this mental illness affects all kinds of people, including our youth. I pledge not only to help our youth not feel ashamed of their own conditions, but also to lend support to those servicemen and women who suffer from PTSD. No one’s invisible pain should go unnoticed.
I am doing various modalities of psychotherapy and am on medicine prescribed by my psychiatrist. However, I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words. Kind words…positive words…words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free. This is how I and we can begin to heal. I am starting today, because secrets keep you sick.
And I don’t want to keep this secret anymore.
A note from my psychologist, Dr Nancy:
If you think you might have PTSD, please seek professional help. There is so much hope for recovery. Many people think that the event that stimulated PTSD needs to be the focus. Yet often, people will experience the same event and have completely different reactions to it. It is my opinion that trauma occurs in an environment where your feelings and emotional experience are not valued, heard and understood. The specific event is not the cause of traumatic experience. This lack of a “relational home” for feelings is the true cause of traumatic experience. Finding support is key.