Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are touring Australia, and during their visit yesterday to the northwestern town of Dubbo, Prince Harry delivered an inspiring, heartfelt speech to the agricultural community, with a message for men everywhere.
The speech took its point of departure from the difficult environmental conditions experienced by Dubbo locals in the past few years: “I know that life has not been easy, you have just lived through two years of drought…. It must be hard not to lose hope when you endure so many dry months on end knowing that you are powerless to do anything about it,” Prince Harry said. Indeed, external (and uncontrollable) factors like tough economic conditions can have a real effect on mental health, according to research published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
“There is still a stigma around mental health…. We know that suicide rates in rural and remote areas are greater than in urban populations and this may be especially true among young men in remote regions,” Prince Harry continued. His thoughtful response also took into account the sometimes fatal hesitation amongst many men to seek help for depression: “You need to know a part of being strong and tough is having the courage to ask for help when you need it,” he said.
Prince Harry also proved that he practices the same openness that he preaches, adding, “You must not silently suffer. You are all in this together — and if I may speak personally, we are all in this together, because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I ever made. All you need to do is to ask for help. Ask your neighbour, your peer, your fellow farmer is literally right around the corner. Chances are they may well be suffering too and will relish the opportunity to either listen or talk themselves.”
The crowd cheered on the royals, and as Prince Harry drew near the end of his speech, he offered words of hope: “You will be continually amazed how life changes for the better once you put your hand up.”
These resources, listed by Prince Harry in his speech, suggest some of the places men can look if they are searching for support:
Social groups or associations
Prince Harry suggested the men of Dubbo turn to the Australia Men’s Shed Association, which draws on an Australian tradition of “men’s sheds,” or backyard sheds that serve as a community and gathering space for friends to come together. Outside of Australia, similar social groups like ROMEO or clubs that provide space to join other men for conversation or activities can provide the same community benefits.
Professional medical care
Another of Prince Harry’s suggested resources was the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which provides medical care (including mental health services) in remote areas where access to doctors or other health professionals can be limited. But wherever you are and whatever your financial circumstances, there are resources that can help you can seek out professional help.
Mindfulness or meditation apps
Prince Harry’s final recommendation for men was the meditation app Headspace. Available to anyone with a smartphone, the app provides an at-home aid for mindfulness meditation — and mindfulness meditation, according to research out of Harvard University, can have a significant impact on depression.
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