Prince Harry says people should train 'mind and body as one' in video launching mental health tool for military

'For too long we have been waiting for problems to arise and then reacting to them', the duke says

Sarah Young
Monday 27 April 2020 12:40 BST
Duke of Sussex helps launch new online mental health platform

The Duke of Sussex has launched a new mental fitness tool aimed at helping military personnel cope with mental health problems.

Prince Harry, who served in the army for 10 years, appears in a video for HeadFit – a new organisation that has been designed to offer round-the-clock access to self-help tools which can help people manage the stresses of everyday life and enhance their mood.

In the video, the Queen's grandson, who is now living in Los Angeles after quitting as a working royal, urges members of the armed forces to train their “mind and body as one”.

The project, led by Harry, has been three years in the making. It was due to be unveiled in June but the launch has been brought forward to help service personnel who may be dealing with new challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today, when we talk about fitness, we don't just mean how fast you can run or how much weight you can carry,” Harry says in the clip.

“This is about mental fitness, strength and resilience, not just while wearing a uniform, but for the rest of your life.

”If you want to be truly fit, strong and healthy, you need to train your mind and body as one. Some people run, others swim, cycle or lift weights in order to be physically fit.

“But what do you do to stay mentally fit? Think about what you can do to unlock your potential, and to perform at the highest level.”

HeadFIT has been developed in partnership with The Royal Foundation's Heads Together campaign, the Ministry of Defence and King's College London, with clinical advice from psychologist Dr Vanessa Moulton.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex left the joint Royal Foundation with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year, but it was said at the time that there would be future collaboration on Heads Together.

In a statement, Harry said he believed the military community should “lead the way for the rest of society”.

“For too long we have been waiting for problems to arise and then reacting to them,” the duke said.

“HeadFIT is a proactive approach to mental fitness, focusing on our own potential to increase our performance, using proven methods in sport science.

“This is about optimisation of self. This is about being the best you can be.”

Johnny Mercer, the minister for defence people and veterans, also stressed the importance of helping troops with their mental health during the coronavirus crisis.

“We train our armed forces to be both physically fit and mentally fit,” he said.

“And right now mental resilience has never been more important as our defence community works tirelessly to support the UK's public services during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The platform includes tools such as breathing exercises, body posture and relaxation techniques that have been designed for all defence personnel, whether they are new recruits, long-serving personnel, veterans, civilian staff or those in uniform.

The techniques are designed so they can be easily integrated into their everyday lives.

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