In a documentary for Channel 4, The Duke of Cambridge is to continue the royal fight against the stigma of mental health, by talking about anorexia.
‘Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia’ is a film featuring reporter and news presenter Mark Austin, and his daughter, Maddy, exploring the impact of eating disorders in the UK. Maddy herself suffered with the illness for a number of years, and took part in the royal-spearheaded Heads Together video series earlier this year.
The pair will talk about their own experiences, hoping to break the stigma around eating disorders and investigate whether the health care system is coping with and effectively treating victims.
Prince William speaks to Mark and Maddy about his hopes for a more open attitude towards mental health and it as a discussion topic amongst family and friends; this has been one of his, The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s aims for a few years.
There are approximately 1.2 million people with eating disorders in the UK, and it is the cause of the highest number of mental health related deaths. Maddy’s battle saw her diagnosed with anorexia at 17, after her weight fell to 5st 7lbs. At 22, she is now healthy again.
In the film, William speaks to the father and daughter at Kensington Palace. He says: “We need to normalise the conversation about mental health. The fact that you are speaking out is incredibly brave.”
Maddy told the Royal she was ‘really inspired by what your mum did,’ talking about Diana’s struggle with bulimia, revealed in her Panorama interview.
When asked by Austin whether he’s proud of his mother for speaking out about her struggles, the Duke replied: “Absolutely. These are illnesses. Mental health needs to be taken as seriously as physical health.”
During the interview, he also explained he would feel ‘helpless’ as a father if any of his family suffered with such an illness, because mental health is often the cause, and that he wants Prince George and Princess Charlotte to ‘grow up in a world where mental health is completely normalised’.
Exploring areas such as waiting lists for treatment, the closure of outpatient centres and the so-called ‘postcode lottery’, Mark and Maddy also speak with those battling the disorders and their families.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is asked to responds to the duo’s findings, as well as criticisms about the speed of change in treatment and whether the money allocated to eating disorders is reaching its intended targets.
Mark Austin says: “This was not an easy film to make. But Maddy and I wanted to highlight the crisis in the treatment of eating disorders in many parts of this country. It is an epidemic of our age and it is high time it was talked about as a mental health emergency that needs resources and attention. We hope this helps.”
The documentary will air on Thursday 24th August at 10pm, on Channel 4.