Prince William speaks of seeing world in ‘darker place’ after air ambulance work

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PRINCE William has admitted he fears for the mental wellbeing of frontline NHS heroes battling the Covid crisis.

The Duke of Cambridge said he “really worries” that the trauma of dealing with stress, suffering and loss will stay with healthcare workers for years to come. William, 38, who worked alongside doctors and paramedics as a pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance for two years, has seen the psychological toll of emergency services work. During a video call, he spoke honestly about the pandemic’s impact with some of the people who are being pushed to the brink – and urged them to seek support.

He told them: “Some of it I noticed from my previous spell flying with the air ambulance.

“When you see so much death and so much bereavement it does impact how you see the world. You’re so drawn into it, which everyone is, it is only natural that would happen. But that’s what I think a lot of the public doesn’t understand, you’re surrounded by that level of intense trauma and sadness and bereavement. It really does, it stays with you.

“At home, it stays with you for weeks on end and you see the world in a much more, slightly depressed, darker, blacker place.”

Prince William news

During a video call Prince William spoke honestly about the pandemic’s impact (Image: getty)

As the rate of Covid infections spiralled across Britain, NHS staff and those working in highly pressurised environments across the emergency services have found themselves worn down by mental anguish and grief.

Until the crisis struck, many health and social care professionals had never seen such levels of death and destruction caused by a virus that has torn families apart.

The compassionate Duke, who is a passionate and long-time mental health campaigner, was joined on Wednesday’s call to Hospice UK’s Just “B” counselling and bereavement support line by his wife ­Kate.

They spoke to frontline workers and counsellors about the devastating mental health impact of the pandemic and why it was vital those caring for patients could get the support they needed.

Prince William said: “What really worries me about frontline staff at the moment is that you are so under the cosh and so pressurised and you’re seeing such high levels of sadness, trauma, death, that it impacts your own life and your own family life because it is always there.”

William and Kate, 39, said it was vital that support was made available to the selfless heroes helping the worst-affected patients. The couple also acknowledged the need to continue to encourage frontline workers to use mental health resources, saying there was no shame in asking for help.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton pictured (Image: getty)

The Duke said: “This is an unprecedented time we are all ­facing. What really needs to be nailed home right now is this is like nothing before that anyone has ever seen, particularly this third wave we are going through”.

Then he told the NHS staff: “People need to understand how you are normal human beings doing a brilliant job in a very, very difficult time, and I hope this service gives people the outlet that they need. I fear you’re all so busy caring for everyone else that you won’t take enough time to care for yourselves, and we won’t see the impacts for quite some time.”

Phil Spencer, a wellbeing inspector at Cleveland Police, told William and Kate: “Emergency service work is difficult at the best of times, policing is really difficult at the best of times, but throw the pandemic into it…

“We’re all the same and, don’t get me wrong, and the NHS rightly so are absolute heroes and my heart goes out to London Ambulance Service and the rest of them, but we [the police] are seen as the villains sometimes – can’t do right for doing wrong, having to put the fines out and lay down the law.

“Like a lot of emergency services we run towards danger, run towards a terrorist attack, run towards the pandemic.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton timeline (Image: nc)

“I think police haven’t engaged perhaps as much as we could have [with counselling] – we don’t want to take anybody else’s valuable time. Perhaps further down the line, we’re going to have some broken police officers and emergency ­services staff.”

The British Medical Association said around 60 percent of doctors were suffering from some form of anxiety or depression, with 46 pe cent saying their condition had worsened since the start of the pandemic. Just “B” was set up at the start of the crisis to offer support to emergency services staff.

In July the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation partnered with NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care to help fund the support line for NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel.

Stigma still stops some from seeking support. But during the call with William and Kate, staff opened up about their battles with mental health and how services like Just “B” had let them cope better and come to terms with the grief they had seen.

Users of the helpline, which operates 365 days a year and provides free and confidential access to bereavement and wellbeing support, have frequently cited exhaustion and the relentless nature of the crisis as their reason for calling.

Kate said: “Never has there been a more important time to have services like this.”

Last year it was revealed William had been secretly working as a volunteer for the Shout 85258 ­crisis text messaging service, which was developed by the Cambridges’ Royal Foundation.

He is trained to support those who contact it, whatever their crisis, by chatting via texts and helping people sort through their feelings by listening, asking questions and empathising. The service can be reached by texting Shout to 85258.

Source: EXPRESS CO UK

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