Invictus Games

Prince Harry Highlights Mental Health In Video Call With Former Invictus Athletes

The founder of the Invictus Games foundation congratulated the former competitors for completing a long-distance challenge in lockdown.

The Duke of Sussex joined a virtual chat with former Invictus Games competitors on the impact of sport on mental wellbeing and coping with the COVID-19 lockdown.

Prince Harry, who founded the international sporting event for injured or sick military personnel, told multinational competitors they were a good example to many suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Invictus athletes from Canada, Australia and the UK had recently completed the 'At Home Superhero Tri'.

The event encourages anyone with a disability to move a distance of their choice in a variety of ways.

Some 55 former Invictus athletes completing their own challenge distance of 2,020km plus 1km extra to mark the Hague Games being postponed until 2021.

“With lockdown and everything else that’s been going on, with the Hague being postponed as well, surely this was an amazing opportunity for you guys to come together," Harry said.

“Not only to do the physical side, which is improving your mental fitness, but to be together as a team doing something like this and having a goal and a purpose and, to some extent, a distraction from the day-to-day life.”

One competitor, Jen Warren, told Harry and others how she took part in the competition while working shifts as an anaesthetist in the NHS during the pandemic.

“It’s not just part of being part of the Invictus Games and on a global stage, it is the simplest of things, but the things that anyone can do, grab a bike, grab a machine, go for a walk, go for a run, whatever it is,” Harry said.

“When you’ve had the training that we’ve all had and when you’ve had to go through the challenges and confront the challenges that so many of you guys have had, it is in today’s world where people need to learn and to be able to learn what resilience is all about.

“There’s no better place to look at than you guys.”

The Invictus Games founder, Prince Harry, with athletes from Team UK (Picture: MOD).

The Duke said the teammates had stories that needed to be told, to encourage other people to rehabilitate and to look at sport in a different way.

“But also to be able to realise every single one of us has that strength inside of us, to confront anything that comes across us,” he added.

“And with COVID and the way that everyone’s life has changed, what better time to put you guys front and centre to say, 'this is what’s happened in my life, that was the dark place that I was in, but look where I am now.'”

A prominent campaigner on mental health issues, Harry stressed the importance of reaching out to those who may be struggling with the implications of coronavirus.

“You might just get the answer ‘yeah I’m fine’, but you guys are the ones that are going to dig a little bit deeper and say ‘fine is not the answer that I was looking for, I’m actually asking how you are,'" he told the former competitors.

Cover image: The Invictus Games Foundation / Youtube.