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‘It took me over the edge’ - Prince William talks pressures he faced being an East Air Ambulance pilot

PUBLISHED: 17:31 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 18:47 20 November 2018

The Duke of Cambridge sits in the cockpit of a helicopter as he begins his job with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) at Cambridge Airport. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Duke of Cambridge sits in the cockpit of a helicopter as he begins his job with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) at Cambridge Airport. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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The Duke of Cambridge has opened up about his own experiences of feeling “very sad and very down” while working for the air ambulance service.

The Duke of Cambridge as he begins his new job with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) at Cambridge Airport. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA WireThe Duke of Cambridge as he begins his new job with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) at Cambridge Airport. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

William said he was lucky to have worked for the RAF and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, because of their good mental health working practices.

Speaking about his time with the air ambulance, he said: “Talking was really important, but even that wasn’t quite enough for one particular incident for me.

“I worked several times on very traumatic jobs involving children, and after I had my own children I think the relation between the job and the personal life was what really took me over the edge, and I started feeling things that I have never felt before, and I got very sad and very down about this particular family.”

One particular incident “took him over the edge”, he added.

06/08/14 Marshalls announcement
06/08/14 - Pictures of the East Anglian Air Ambulance in Cambridge, the Duke of Cambridge is to be a pilot for the Charity. From Left Pilot Cpt Dave Kelly, Critical Care Paramedic Gary Spitzer, Dr Jayne McKinlay and  Dr Antonio Bellini. Picture by Keith Jones06/08/14 Marshalls announcement 06/08/14 - Pictures of the East Anglian Air Ambulance in Cambridge, the Duke of Cambridge is to be a pilot for the Charity. From Left Pilot Cpt Dave Kelly, Critical Care Paramedic Gary Spitzer, Dr Jayne McKinlay and Dr Antonio Bellini. Picture by Keith Jones

It is understood he was discussing an accident involving a child.

The duke worked as a pilot for the service for two years between 2015 and last year – flying missions across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge.

He spoke at the inaugural ‘This Can Happen’ conference at The O2 in London on Tuesday, which aims to address mental health issues in the workplace.

About 120 employers from different sectors were represented at the event, which was attended by roughly 750 people.

The Duke of Cambridge returns to the new base of East Anglian Air Ambulance at Cambridge Airport ahead of a visit by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA WireThe Duke of Cambridge returns to the new base of East Anglian Air Ambulance at Cambridge Airport ahead of a visit by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

He urged employers to look after the mental health of workers.

While taking part in a panel discussion, William added: “We spend a vast amount of our time at work.

“There should be a much more open, supportive and compassionate working environment to deal with those sorts of problems.

“There’s still a stigma about mental health. We are chipping away at it but that wall needs to be smashed down.”

Workers need to feel they can speak to people in the HR department, he added.

He also spoke about the responsibility of looking after his own staff, who he said sometimes work “silly hours”.

It is important they “keep an eye on the hours they work” and the commuting they do, he added.

William campaigns alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex for mental health initiative Heads Together.

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