Prince William Fears It Could Be Damaging To Label Health Care Workers 'Heroes'

"We've got to be very careful with the language that we use," the Duke of Cambridge cautioned.

Prince William is cautioning people who are quick to label health care workers as “heroes” amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the inspiring characterization can lead to detrimental health effects for workers.

While he fully supports the staff of the National Health Service (NHS) and wants them to be hailed as heroic and brave, the Duke of Cambridge said on BBC’s “The One Show” on Thursday that he also wants the workers to “come through this in one piece” with their mental health intact. 

“We made the NHS frontline staff, rightly, heroes,” he says during a clip on the show. “But in doing so, we once again give them the burden that we gave our soldiers fighting in the war, where everyone was so grateful and wanted to show their appreciation as to their fighting for their freedoms and everything.”

The duke said that “we’ve got to be very careful with the language that we use” to make sure that workers “come through this in one piece” and aren’t left “broken.”

“They should rightly be hailed as superstars, and brave, and wonderful staff, but I’m very conscious from a mental health point of view that we don’t alienate some of them,” he said. 

“Where they feel that once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can’t ask for support, they have to be this strong pillar of strength, when actual fact what we need them to be is examples of positive mental health,” he added.

The Duke of Cambridge discusses mental health ― and specifically the stigma surrounding men’s mental health ― in a new BBC One documentary that premiered on Thursday.

In “Football, Prince William And Our Mental Health,” the royal talks about why “it’s OK to not be OK.” In one particularly poignant moment, William delves into the emotions he felt becoming a parent, and how it brought back the feelings he experienced losing his mother, Princess Diana.

“I think when you’ve been through something traumatic in life, and that is ― like you say ― your dad not being around, my mother dying when I was younger, the emotions come back, in leaps and bounds,” he says to former professional soccer player Marvin Sordell. “It’s a very different phase of life, and there’s no one there to kind of help you.”

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