Prince William has taken his campaign to increase awareness of mental health problems to Davos.
Global leaders queued for nearly an hour to hear the Duke of Cambridge, who was speaking at the World Economic Forum alongside the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, to call for an end to the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.
The prince suggested the stiff upper lip approach of the wartime generation was responsible for some of the stigma. “Wartime was very, very difficult for everybody,” he said, adding that it was thought “no matter how much you would talk, you were never going to fix the issue”.
“A whole generation decided that this was the best way of dealing with it. They then, completely by accident, passed that on to the next generation. So a whole generation inherited [the idea] that this was the way you deal with your problems: you don’t talk about it.”
William said a new generation in the UK was finally realising “this is not normal, we should talk about it”.
Ardern said she had lost friends to suicide. “One of the sad facts for New Zealand is that everyone knows someone who has taken their own life. We’re a small country, of less than 5 million people, but last year more than 600 people committed suicide,” she said.
Ardern has made mental health a key priority for her government, increasing spending and putting specialised mental health nurses in schools across the country.