Prince William and David Beckham Discuss the Importance of Mental Health in the Sports World

Bianca Betancourt
Photo credit: YouTube
Photo credit: YouTube

From Harper's BAZAAR

  • Prince William sat down with soccer star David Beckham and other athletes via video call to discuss the importance of mental health in U.K.'s soccer community.

  • The discussion coincided with the Duke of Cambridge's new initiative, the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, a pledge to prioritize mental health within the sport that leaders of the soccer community have signed.

Prince William recently sat down with David Beckham and other athletes for a roundtable discussion on the importance of mental health within the soccer community.

Per People, the conversation coincided with the Duke of Cambridge's newly launched initiative, the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, which is the culmination of the duke's Heads Up campaign. The declaration—signed by leaders of the soccer community—is a written pledge promising that British soccer leagues will make mental health a priority at all levels of the game going forward.

During the video chat with Beckham and a few other players, the group discussed how the stigmas of mental health have changed in recent years. Beckham personally reflected on one of the biggest regrets in his career—receiving a red card during the England vs. Argentina 1998 World Cup—and how if social media had been around back then, the effects on his mental state would probably have been very different.

"I made a mistake in '98 and the reaction at the time was pretty brutal. … If social media was around when I was going through that time, it would have been a whole different story," explained Beckham. "But I was lucky, I had a support system within Manchester United, the manager and obviously family. But did I feel it was okay at the time to go to someone and say I need help? No, because it was a different era."

Steph Houghton, a player for England and Manchester City, also partook in the chat, adding that she believes showing vulnerability makes one a better leader.

"As a leader, you try and be this person that’s always strong and always really positive, but the reality is sometimes you’re going to have a bit of a bad day. I think the way that you grow as a leader and [create] the environment for people to open up is if you show that little bit of vulnerability," said Houghton. "Maybe one day you do have a bad day, you’re a bit down or you’ve maybe not played as well as you possibly can, it’s ok to show that."

William's recent video chat isn't the first time the duke has combined his love of soccer with his passion for mental health advocacy. Back in May, the prince had a similar conversation with a string of star athletes and their experiences with mental well-being for the BBC program, Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health.

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