‘Long way to go’ on mental health in UK, says William

By Caitlin Doherty, Press Association

There is still “a long way to go” on mental health in the UK but things are “changing”, the Duke of Cambridge has said.

William discussed men’s mental health projects on a visit to Pall Mall Barbers in Paddington on Thursday.

The duke said it was important that men feel they have somebody who listens to their concerns, and compared mental health issues with physical illness.

William met the Lions Barber Collective who are raising awareness of suicide prevention (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

“Guys need support. People think they need to man up,” he said.

“If you’re suffering, then you’re suffering.

“If you have a broken leg, then you go and see the doctor. You wouldn’t turn around and say ‘I can manage this’ with an open fracture.

“We’ve still got a long way to go, but it is changing.”

William met members of the Lions Barber Collective on his visit, professionals who have come together to raise awareness of mental health problems for the prevention of suicide.

Through the scheme, barbers are being trained to recognise depression and mental health issues in their clients and point them in the direction of support.

But the duke did not waste the easy opportunity for a joke, telling the barbers: “I don’t need haircuts anymore.”

Dean Hamilton, 30, a barber and member of the Lions Barber Collective, said he thought the last half decade had brought big changes in the treatment of mental health.

“We’re seeing massive change,” he said.

“My little boy told his entire class I was meeting you today. The fact that I’m making my son that proud and he’s recognising about learning about mental health shows the massive changes in the last five years.”

William spoke to Dean Hamilton (right) and Paul Richardson during the visit (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

He said meeting Prince William was “a privilege”, adding: “It was amazing because it shows all of our efforts are not for nothing.

“It was great not to feel judged.”

Another member of the collective, Paul Richardson, credited the project with helping him to receive help for his mental health issues.

He said: “The project made me realise I had issues. Until then I just thought I was quite a miserable person.

“This is something I could get help with and I could improve on the issues I have.”

The duke also met 28-year-old Ken Hermes, a barber who lost his father to suicide aged 15.

Mr Hermes said he had unanswered questions following the death of his father and praised the project for allowing open and honest conversations on male mental health.

The Duke of Cambridge has thrown his support behind a number of mental health projects.

He leads the Heads Together initiative, alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, which aims to tackle the stigma around mental health.