UK's Prince Harry says troops need mental as well as physical fitness combat training

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince Harry said on Monday the mental health of serving soldiers was as important as ensuring they were ready to take part in conflicts.

He was speaking as he launched a new partnership between Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the younger royals’ charity.

Harry, who spent 10 years in the military, including two tours of Afghanistan, joined forces with Britain’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon to promote a new initiative to offer mental health support to those in the armed forces, their families and veterans.

“Crucially, fighting fitness is not just about physical fitness. It is just as much about mental fitness too,” Harry said.

The new partnership will see the Royal Foundation, established by Harry, his elder brother Prince William and William’s wife Kate to support their chosen charities, provide advice and resources to the MoD to raise awareness of good mental health and improve training, education and information sharing.

“Our soldiers, sailors and airmen are the best in the world but we will only maintain that if we are as serious about improving mental health as we are our combat skills and cutting-edge technology,” Fallon said.

Since Harry left the military, he has made campaigning over mental health issues and the fate of veterans two of his priorities.

Earlier this year he revealed he himself had come “very close to a breakdown” a number of times following the death of his mother, Diana, when he was 12 years old.

Harry is also the creator and founder of the Invictus Games, a multinational sporting event for wounded, sick or disabled military personnel.

Reporting by Polina Ivanova Editing by Jeremy Gaunt