Prince Harry Echoes Mom: Pills Aren’t Always The Answer

By Victoria Kim 09/28/17

"There has to be a better way than just giving out antidepressants. There is no one silver bullet, no one cure for everyone.”

Prince Harry

There’s a time and place for prescription medications, but does Western medicine rely too heavily on these quick fix remedies?

Prince Harry says there are better ways to treat mental health than to prioritize pills. “It seems we suffer from a culture where a pill will fix everything,” he said. “There has to be a better way than just giving out antidepressants.”

The prince made his comments on a visit with doctors at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. He was in town for the third annual Invictus Games, a global paralympic-style competition for wounded veterans—running from September 23-30. Harry launched the event in 2014; he himself served in the British Army from 2005-2015, including a period of time in Afghanistan.

“There were 65 million [antidepressants] given out in one year in the UK alone,” said the 33-year-old army veteran and mental health advocate. “That’s why I look to you guys in this room. Everyone is uniquely wired is what I keep saying. There is no one silver bullet, no one cure for everyone.”

According to The Mail on Sunday, Harry’s mother Princess Diana was given antidepressants because doctors thought “she was suffering from an obscure mental condition.”

The beloved Princess of Wales was known for her big heart, but she was reportedly just as troubled. According to interview recordings from 1991 featured in the recent National Geographic documentary Diana: In Her Own Words, Diana talked about wanting to cut her wrists, she was in “a very bad way.”

“Couldn’t sleep, didn’t eat, the whole world was collapsing around me,” she said. “All the analysts and psychiatrists you can ever dream of came plodding in. Tried to sort me out. Put me on high doses of Valium.”

But like Harry, the young royal felt the same unease about seeking a cure in pills. “They were telling me, ‘Pills.’ But the Diana that was still very much there decided that it was just time, patience, and adapting that was all that was needed.”

During a CNN town hall special on the opioid epidemic that aired May 2016, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen echoed the British royals’ sentiments. “We have this culture of giving a pill for every problem, this culture of a quick fix,” Wen told hosts Anderson Cooper and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “And that’s something we have to change.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr