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William reveals ‘all the pain’ he experienced during work as air ambulance pilot

The Duke of Cambridge was launching the Mental Health At Work project.

The Duke of Cambridge makes a speech during a visit to the Engine Shed in Bristol to launch the Mental Health at Work project (Eamonn McCormack/PA)
The Duke of Cambridge makes a speech during a visit to the Engine Shed in Bristol to launch the Mental Health at Work project (Eamonn McCormack/PA)

The Duke of Cambridge has candidly revealed he took some of the troubling aspects of his air ambulance pilot job home, as he launched an initiative to improve workplace well-being.

William said “you’re just seeing all the sad things, all the pain every day” as he chatted to senior paramedic Dawn Anderson, who has recovered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with help from her employer.

The duke travelled to the Engine Shed, a community work-hub in Bristol to launch the Mental Health At Work project, an online gateway aimed at providing resources, training and information for managers to support their staff with problems.

In a cafe on the site the second-in-line to the throne chatted to Ms Anderson and others who have recorded videos talking about their experiences of workplace mental health to promote the new website.

He said that when he worked for the East Anglian Air Ambulance: “I took a lot home without realising it.”

William added: “If you see sad things every day, you think all life is like that, you’re just seeing all the sad things, all the pain every day.

“I think that for the medical community, particularly, must weigh a lot on their minds.

“That you’re always dealing with despair, sadness, injury, things that are really quite troubling.

The audience heard the Duke of Cambridge speak of his own experiences (Eamonn McCormack/PA)

“The attrition builds up and you don’t really have the opportunity to off-load it.”

The project has been created by the duke’s mental health campaign Heads Together and the charity Mind which has released the findings of a major study into workplace wellbeing.

It found almost half of the 44,000 workers questioned had experienced poor mental health in their current job.

The survey revealed only half of those who had experienced poor mental health had talked to their employer about the issue, suggesting as many as one in four UK workers is struggling in silence with problems such as anxiety, low mood and stress.

In a speech to launch the portal which went live on Tuesday, the duke said: “If you are a business owner, a team leader, a line manager, you work in HR, or just believe in supporting the wellbeing of your colleagues – Mental Health At Work can help.”

The Duke of Cambridge talking to workers at the the Engine Shed (Eamonn McCormack/PA)

William said he wanted the gateway to be a “big shift in working culture” and ensure that dealing with mental health is a part of the everyday working life.

He said that while working as an air ambulance pilot crews were encouraged to talk about problems.

During the event the duke dropped in on workshops demonstrating the gateway and met people trying out the new system.

Ms Anderson, who works for East of England Ambulance Service based in Whitham, Essex, said about William: “He feels like a colleague as well as a leader. He is so calm and approachable.

“He has a real relaxed presence about him. It has been a positive and wonderful experience.”

The Duke of Cambridge starting his final shift with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (Heathcliff O’Malley/PA)

The senior paramedic, who developed PTSD following some of her experiences at work, added: “I’ve always held the belief that everybody is susceptible to mental health problems and I wouldn’t expect even a member of the royal family to be exempt from that.

“To hear him admit that just goes to prove how good it is to speak about these things and how positive that can be.

“And it goes towards removing that stigma about mental health and to speaking up to and owning up to it.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph