Oarsome time with P.O.W.

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The Prince of Wales joined submarine family rowers HMS Oardacious crew for a very important conversation about mental health.

For #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek they headed out onto the water, chatting everything from teamwork to food rations and just what it takes to look after your mental and physical health when rowing across the Atlantic.

Prince William, Commander-in-Chief of the Submarine Service, has marked Mental Health Awareness Week by appearing in a short YouTube film alongside four serving Royal Navy Submariners who have been crew members on HMS Oardacious challenges.

HMS Oardacious was established in 2019 to champion and fundraise for the wellbeing, mental health and welfare of all Submariners, serving and retired, and their families.  It sees crews of Submariners embark on bold challenges to row across the Atlantic.

In January 2020, four serving Royal Navy Submariners became the fastest military team in history to row across any ocean, spending 37 days, 6 hours and 40 minutes battling across the North Atlantic to reach Antigua as part of the annual Atlantic Challenge – considered the premier, and toughest, event in ocean rowing. The team subsequently entered a crew in 2022, and have their crews ready for 2023, 2024 and beyond. The teams all championed mental health and resilience and have fundraised over £110,000 in support of mental health charity initiatives.

In the film released today, Prince William joins representatives of the HMS Oardacious crew for a training session on Dorney Lake in Buckinghamshire.  The group includes co-founders, Lieutenant Commander Callum Fraser and Lieutenant Commander Hugo Mitchell-Heggs, as well as Chief Petty Officer Jon Norfolk who took part in the 2022 team and Lieutenant Isobel Rawlinson who is looking to Captain an all-female team in 2024.Together, they discuss the importance of managing our mental health and how exercise can be used as a tool to help manage it. The crew also share their experiences of crossing the Atlantic, the challenges they faced and the impact it had on both their physical and mental health. Back in the boathouse, The Prince hears from the crew in more depth about how they manage their mental health, the support they provide to each other as a team, and the work HMS Oardacious does to raise awareness and combat the stigma associated with talking about mental wellbeing.

Speaking during the film about how important strong relationships are to protecting our mental health, Prince William said:

“Understanding our support networks is crucial because a lot of people don’t have those support networks and being able to form close bonds and realise that the only way we are going to get through all of this is to support each other and pull each other through.”

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 15th – 21st May and this year focuses on the theme of anxiety. The week intends to kickstart a national conversation, encouraging people to share their own experiences and any helpful tips on how they manage their anxiety. The film released today follows visits by The Princess of Wales to The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust in Bath and Anna Freud in London as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

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