William joins England manager and footballers for mental health chat

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William and footballers discussed mental health (Adam Vallance/PA)

The Duke of Cambridge has joined England manager Gareth Southgate and famous footballers in a locker room to discuss men’s mental health.

William teamed up with Peter Crouch, Thierry Henry, Danny Rose and Jermaine Jenas as they shared issues they have struggled with in their careers in a discussion about the importance of mental fitness.

The conversation was filmed earlier this month for a BBC documentary at the grounds of Cambridge United Football Club, which is pioneering what it means to be a mentally healthy football club.

The famous men are joined by four football fans, Tom, Steve, Paul and Mark.

They head to the ground thinking they have been invited to speak about their own struggles with mental health – unaware that they are about to come face-to-face with some of their footballing heroes.

William said: “Men are the hardest-to-reach audience on the subject of mental health.

Men’s mental health
England manager Gareth Southgate and the Duke of Cambridge were joined by famous footballers (Adam Vallance/BBC/PA)

“Suicide is the biggest killer of young men under the age of 45, and that’s an appalling statistic.

“There needs to be a turning point where we can pass the message on to men everywhere that it’s OK to talk about mental health. We have to normalise the whole conversation.”

Southgate said: “We’ve got to try to help and support each other. Football generally has had a culture of maybe not opening up about anything in your life, without being seen as being weak for doing that.

“I think it’s key that that isn’t a weakness, it’s actually a strength that you’re confident enough to talk about those things openly.”

Jenas said: “My biggest hope for this is that a conversation will be had. The rate of male suicide has gone through the roof, so it’s great that we’re having this chat.”

In a short clip posted by the BBC on Twitter, Southgate is seen referring to a “sense of hopelessness” and Henry says: “It’s almost forbidden to cry.”

William says: “We’ve got to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions because we’re not robots.”

He then points at Crouch, and in a reference to the footballer’s robotic celebration dance, jokes: “He does a great robot impression.”

A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health, presented by Dan Walker, will air on Sunday May 19 at 10.30pm on BBC One.

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