Harry says quitting jobs to put mental health first should be celebrated

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The Duke of Sussex has said job resignations accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic “aren’t all bad”, adding that people putting their mental health and happiness first should be “celebrated”.

Harry, who quit his own role as a senior working royal for a new life of personal and financial freedom in 2020, was speaking as chief impact officer for professional coaching and mental health firm BetterUp.

He said many people around the world “would have been stuck in jobs that didn’t bring them joy” and this was the start of a “mental health awakening”.

Commonwealth Day 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down as senior working royals in March 2020 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The duke’s Q&A with Fast Company was published on the same day the Duke of Cambridge’s discussions about his own mental health were released in an audio walking tour for Apple.

Harry was asked about a workplace trend of increased burnout and job resignations spurred on by Covid which has been dubbed the “Great Resignation” by economists in the US.

He said: “I’ve actually discovered recently, courtesy of a chat with (BetterUp science board member) Adam Grant, that a lot of the job resignations you mention aren’t all bad.

“In fact, it is a sign that with self-awareness comes the need for change.

“Many people around the world have been stuck in jobs that didn’t bring them joy, and now they’re putting their mental health and happiness first. This is something to be celebrated.”

He added: “While on the surface it looks like these last couple of years brought all these issues to the foreground, the reality is these struggles and issues have been brewing for quite some time.

“We’re just at the beginning of the mental health awakening.”

San Francisco-based BetterUp is valued at 4.7 billion dollars and Harry’s role, which he took on in March, includes product strategy, philanthropy, and public advocacy related to mental health.

He is also involved in the firm’s commitment to Pledge 1% – a movement which encourages companies to donate 1% of equity, staff time, product or profit to their communities.

Harry said BetterUp envisioned a “world where growth and transformation are possible for everyone, and everyone has access to the support and care they need to thrive”.

He added: “Being attuned with your mind, and having a support structure around you, are critical to finding your own version of peak performance, whether you’re a global leader or an employee working nine to five.”

Apple Fitness+ Time to Walk encourages people to walk for their mental and physical health. In the episode released on Monday, Harry’s brother William recalled feeling “like the whole world was dying” as he struggled in his role as an air ambulance pilot.

Harry too has been open about his mental health challenges as part of an Apple series.

On Apple TV’s The Me You Can’t See, Harry told series co-host Oprah Winfrey how the trauma of his mother’s death led him to use alcohol and drugs to “mask” his emotions and to “feel less like I was feeling”.

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