Prince Harry's new job: Experts hope Duke's role will help with COVID-19 'mental health tsunami'

ByAmanda del Castillo WABC logo
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Prince Harry lands job at SF startup BetterUp
Prince Harry got a job at the San Francisco startup, BetterUp.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Since stepping down from being a working member of the Royal Family, Prince Harry is now taking on an executive role at BetterUp, Inc.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco-based mental health and coaching firm announced Harry will continue to push the importance of mental fitness and human potential.

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"We really do need a lot of help on the mental health front," Santa Clara University Professor and licensed psychologist, Dr. Thomas Plante told ABC7 News. "Because we've got a mental health tsunami going on right now."

Dr. Plante, pointing to the pandemic, on-going political divisiveness, racism and violence. He explained such mental health services are desperately needed, and those seeking help may be drawn by Harry's celebrity.

"Whenever you have someone from the Royal Family participate in this way, in American business or activities or whatever, you just kind of hope and pray that they do that with a great deal of integrity," Dr. Plante continued. "With good ethics, with a good deal of humility. And they stay in that lane, so that they can work for the common good."

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Buckingham Palace has confirmed that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, will not be returning to royal duties, and Harry will give up his honorary military titles.

The Duke of Sussex is becoming the Chief Impact Officer at the company. He's expected to have input on product strategy and charitable contributions.

While no one from BetterUp was immediately available for comment, a blog post published to the company's website detailed Harry's four key areas of focus. This included driving mental health advocacy and awareness.

"This partnership with companies like BetterUp and other companies will open the door for what we call 'social responsible companies,'" SJSU Professor and cyber security expert, Ahmed Banafa shared.

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According to Banafa, the term describes companies that aren't only looking to make a profit, but are also trying to solve real problems.

"It is a win-win situation for the Silicon Valley," he added. "It's a win-win situation for the mental services, a win-win situation for Prince Harry and for the company. So everybody's winning here."

It is unclear what a typical workday might look like for Prince Harry or whether he'll be working remotely, but tech and mental health experts agree his influence should make quite an impact.

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Banafa explained, "This is could open the door for more influential people, influencers and famous people to think about joining companies for a social purpose that will help elevate the attention of people."

"You just hope that the company will offer a really high-quality, professional and evidence based service, so that people will find a way to get the help that they need," Dr. Plante shared.

"The evidence suggests that anxiety, depression and substance abuse disorders are like out of control," he continued. "And so this is really terrific when celebrities with good intentions get involved with products and services that will actually help people."

"COVID hurt so many people, but you have to look at some of the impact of COVID," Banafa told ABC7 News. "Which is accelerating the use of technology for good purposes."

It's the latest business venture for the duke and his wife, Meghan Markle.

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