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Prince Harry wants young people to drop 'bad habits' in mental health campaign


Prince Harry meets members of the public in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland

Prince Harry meets members of the public in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland

Prince Harry is making his first official visit to Northern Ireland

Prince Harry is making his first official visit to Northern Ireland


Prince Harry meets members of the public in Belfast during a visit to Northern Ireland

Prince Harry has urged an end to the stigma around mental health.

The prince is campaigning for change from the "bad habits" of the previous generation.

The 32-year-old said he was inspired and uplifted after meeting young people working to improve support and prevent suicide in Northern Ireland.

He added: "The older generation have had it one way and handed whatever you want to call it, the bad habits, down to all of us, as the younger generation.

"What we have been trying to do is remove the stigma around mental health, to encourage people to have a conversation."

The prince met young people aged 15 to 17 from the Northern Ireland National Citizen Service, whose motto is "Say yes", during a visit to the MAC arts centre in Belfast city centre.

He said: "It is easy to bury your head in the sand and not do anything about it, but much more inspiring and uplifting to go to a group like this with like-minded people.

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"When you are together like this, you have an opportunity to start the change, to have an influence."

Harry revealed in an interview with the Daily Telegraph he spent nearly 20 years "not thinking'' about his mother Diana, Princess of Wales's death and eventually got help after two years of "total chaos''.

Earlier on Thursday, the prince put an ambulance worker in a spin after he used a harness to demonstrate some emergency equipment during the opening of a new £5 million ambulance centre in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Harry quipped "I am all right down here" and twirled him around as he hung by cables from the ceiling during a demonstration.

During his visit, Harry spoke with young people about empowerment, about standing up and doing something for peace-building.

The royal family have a history of working for reconciliation during trips across the Irish Sea and the prince's humanity while meeting community groups from nationalist and unionist backgrounds across the island was outstanding, his hosts said.

Co-operation Ireland, which organised the meeting, is a charity which has worked for almost 40 years to build a shared and cohesive society within Northern Ireland and across the Irish border.

Its chief executive Peter Sheridan said: "Today was about reaching to the next generation, to the next generation of the royal family, the next generation of young people across this island, whatever background they come from."

A total of ten schools were represented from across Northern Ireland. A group had travelled from just across the border in Belturbet, Co Cavan.

The prince was applauded as he left and schoolchildren from both sides of the divide sung his praises.

Aodhan Mackin, 16, from Ardoyne, a republican district of north Belfast which has been the scene of bitter conflict over past years and decades, said: "Not many people would think to meet the prince but we did meet him, so it was good, and he was down to earth."

Co-Operation Ireland helped arrange the Queen's first visit to Dublin, which was a groundbreaking moment for Anglo-Irish relations.

In 2012 it hosted a historic and highly symbolic handshake between late Sinn Fein deputy first minister and lifelong republican Martin McGuinness and the Queen.

Mr Sheridan said Harry's visit was about building on that legacy.

"Here was an opportunity for young people to say what they think about peace-building, about the issues of today and you could see the connection between them and Prince Harry, who is a young person himself.

"They sat down and had conversations, all of us have prejudices but to be able to sit down and have conversations about things which are of common interest, be it mental health or how we build peace in this place.

"I think it went incredibly well."

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