Prince William Spoke About the Risks of Calling Healthcare Workers "Heroes"

William spoke about the mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an appearance on the BBC's The One Show.

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(Image credit: WPA Pool)
  • Prince William's documentary about mental health (opens in new tab)Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health, was broadcast in the U.K. on Thursday night.
  • Ahead of the documentary, William spoke about the mental health challenges (opens in new tab) faced by healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an appearance on the BBC's The One Show.
  • "I think we've got to be very careful with the language that we use," he said, noting that healthcare workers might feel that "once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can't ask for support." 

Prince William warned against calling healthcare workers "heroes" amid the coronavirus pandemic, explaining that it might put undue pressure on those working on the frontline and prevent them from seeking mental health support. In a video broadcast on the BBC's The One Show, before his documentary Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health was aired in the U.K., William expressed concern that healthcare workers felt unable to ask for help once branded with the "hero tag."

"I think we've got to be very careful with the language that we use," William said, as the BBC reports (opens in new tab). "[Healthcare workers] should rightly be hailed as superstars, and brave, and wonderful staff; but I'm very conscious from a mental health point of view that we don't alienate some of them."

The Duke of Cambridge said he feared healthcare staff would feel that "once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can't ask for support, they have to be this strong pillar of strength, when in actual fact what we need them to be is examples of positive mental health." He urged healthcare workers to seek support and care for themselves, to ensure they emerged from the pandemic "in one piece."

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Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.