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The Traitors star Harry Clark: I was in mental health hole and didn’t know where to turn

The army veteran and champion of the hit BBC reality show talks to Lauren Taylor about public criticism and facing emotions head on.


Harry Clark is backing a new Environment Agency campaign to highlight how fishing can improve wellbeing (LDR Media/PA)

Winner of BBC’s The Traitors series two, Harry Clark, has revealed that he struggled with his mental health while he served in the British Army.


“I just dug myself into a hole where it felt like I was six foot deep,” says the 23-year-old, who took home the £95,000 prize money after scheming and lying his way through the hit reality show – famously blindsiding best friend on the show, Mollie Pearce, during a shock finale.


But as a young lance corporal, while abroad on training deployments and after coming home, Clark says: “I didn’t know where to turn, I didn’t know what to do. And then, you know, you question yourself, is there any point in being here?”


However, he says: “I was really lucky that happened to me around the age of 21. It was a blessing in disguise. From that, I was so much stronger.



“No one else could help me get out of that hole. I put myself first and from then on, I learned how to value life. I learned so much about myself where it was like, OK, I know what I want. I know how to value each day.”


During his time in the army from the age of 16 to 22, with only weekends at home with his family and friends, he would “live for Fridays”, he says.


“Then it was like, why am I living for the Friday if I don’t make it there?”


These days Clark – a hugely popular character amongst the other contestants on the latest series of The Traitors, a modern day murder mystery hosted by Claudia Winkleman – looks after his mental health by playing golf, football and boxing, as well as fishing, which he’s done his “whole life”.


He’s now backing a new Environment Agency campaign to highlight how fishing can improve wellbeing. A survey of 4,000 British anglers found 99% recommend it as a stress-reliever.


For the reality star, “Growing up as a kid, it was always a way to escape. My uncle first taught me how to fish when we were [at our family] caravan. The first time I caught a fish, I was probably 10 or 11.” And the sport became something he did regularly with his best friend (also called Harry).


Harry Clark fishing with his childhood best friend, Harry (LDR Media/PA)

“We just chill by the lake, it’s so calm and it’s so relaxing just to get away from everything. Everyone deals with mental health differently, that’s seen in both me and Harry. He’s a talker, a big talker, and will just talk about everything that’s on his mind. Whereas I like to get through things by myself. But with someone else there.


“That’s just how I work as a person. You don’t always have to talk about it. Personally, I would just sit there, just look at him and laugh at him. And know that he’s there.”


Men, he says, “often try to be that ‘macho man’.” But his time in the army taught him true mental strength. “It teaches you to know yourself, it teaches you how to show emotion, how to give certain amounts to each situation.”


For Clark, whose girlfriend is TV presenter and influencer Anna Maynard, it’s key to work through difficult times, but giving himself time to feel the emotion – rather than avoid or hide away from it.


“The best way to explain it is, say I’m angry, I give myself 10 minutes or 20 minutes to be angry and just be annoyed with something. [If] I’m sad, I give myself an hour to just be sad, because you should allow yourself that period.



“When you don’t allow yourself to feel these emotions, you bottle it up, and that’s when it can lead you down a bad path. Or you just explode at some point.”


Born into a close family and one of six siblings, Clark still lives with them on the council estate in Slough he grew up on. “I just thought I’d give [The Traitors] a go, [I thought] I can win a bit of dosh for me and my family and that’s it, just going back normal life.”


He was chosen as one of the original ‘traitors’ on the programme, which aired earlier this year, whose aim is to stay undetected and avoid being ‘banished’ by the larger group of ‘faithfuls’ – while, one-by-one, secretly ‘murdering’ until whoever is left at the end takes a prize fund.


His tactic was to immerse himself into the role of the good guy. “I convinced myself, I still am [convinced], I’m faithful – 100%. It was just a game and when I put a cloak on, that’s when I had to turn and do the other roles.


“To me, it wasn’t really lying.”


Having three sisters and two brothers, “I’ve always had to white lie my whole way through life to get things above them,” he says, with a laugh. “It’s like when you’re playing Monopoly, I’m always banker, so I nick a few 500 quid on the side.”


Claudia Winkleman hosts BBC’s The Traitors (Ian West/PA)

But – after duping his closest friend in the jaw-dropping final scenes – Clark says he did worry about how the public would perceive him.


“I was really scared that people would think, this guy’s not nice, he’s nasty, or malicious. But I never wanted to be like that because I’m only playing a game. I’m not a horrible person in real life.”


The reaction when the show aired was “overall, amazing”, he says, but, “you get the ones that will say, ‘I can’t believe you did that’ or, ‘I hate you so much’. It doesn’t really mean much because they don’t know me as a person.”


Watching it back, even he wondered how he managed to pull off the ultimate deception.”I was like, how does this guy get out of it?


“I’m pretty good at games and being headstrong, but my mental strength surprised me. It made me proud.”



For more information on when you need fishing licence and how to buy one, visit GOV.UK

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