In a groundbreaking new documentary, Football, Prince William and our Mental Health, the prince, 37, says that having his three children — Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2 — was his “biggest life-changing moment.”
In the new film, which airs on BBC One in the U.K. on May 28, the royal sympathizes with former soccer player Marvin Sordell, who suffered from depression and grew up without a father. William recalls the death of his own mother, Princess Diana, during their conversation.
Sordell has talked openly about how his mental health challenges impacted his career in football and his personal life. Becoming a father “was the hardest time in my life," he tells William." You know, I found it really tough . . . I grew up without my father . . . I really struggled with my emotions at that time.”
William agrees as he opens up about losing his mom Diana, who died following a car crash in Paris in 1997.
“Having children is the biggest life-changing moment, it really is . . . I think when you’ve been through something traumatic in life, and that is like you say, your dad not being around, my mother dying when I was younger, the emotions come back, in leaps and bounds," William shares.
When Sordell admits that he “found it really tough” when he became a father, the prince says, “Me and Catherine, particularly, we support each other and we go through those moments together and we kind of evolve and learn together.”
“I can completely relate to what you’re saying about children coming along — it’s one of the most amazing moments of life, but it’s also one of the scariest.”
The new film fits in with William's ongoing Heads Up campaign across British soccer. The royal is using the popular sport as an anchor to help raise the issue of mental wellbeing in men. And it features many prominent British footballers as he meets players, fans and managers from grassroots to the elite as part of the campaign. It also tells the stories of men from across the U.K. who have been affected by mental health issues.
Sordell also opens up about his lowest point when he attempted suicide in 2013.
“I was in a really bad place. I got to the point where I thought I can’t do this anymore. I took a load of tablets and went to bed, not expecting to wake up," he says. "If I saw me in that situation now, you can tell a mile off there’s a big problem, big, big problem. But it’s football though — literally we don’t look at these things and tackle them and try and solve them, we just think we just wanna put that away, and just leave it.”
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In January, William was hosted by Everton FC in Liverpool as he worked to put mental wellbeing on an equal footing with physical health. He met some of the club’s first-team players to talk about the importance of encouraging men, especially, to feel more at ease about discussing their mental health.
William, who is President of The Football Association, said in a statement as he kicked off his mental health in soccer campaign, “Over the course of the next five months, Heads Up will use one of the most powerful, unifying forces in our society – football – to spread the message that we all have mental health, just as we all have physical health."
"Our ambition is to start the largest ever conversation on mental health and to ensure there is a lasting mental health legacy for the game in this country. I hope Heads Up can help us all take another big step forward in shattering the stigma that surrounds mental health.”