TW: This post discusses suicide/suicidal thoughts.
Like millions people around the world, I watched Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Oprah Interview this week. I thought it was very good for many reasons, but since this is a mental health blog I’ll stick to what we do and what inspired this post, which is how Meghan Markle spoke on her own mental health. The way she shared her story and how she connected the dots reminded me of the value of public figures to opening up about their mental health.
I’ve written about something similar a few times before. I was very excited when Jay-Z brought up mental health and when several NBA players like DeMar Derozan shared their experiences with depression and anxiety. What Markle adds to these dynamics was her ability to speak on her struggles and name them. She specifically mentioned at one point that even though she was ashamed to admit say that she didn’t want to be alive anymore, she knew that she had to say it, and tell someone about what she was dealing with.
She tied external moments in life to her mental wellness at the time, something that’s difficult to do. And the fact that both she and Harry continuously mentioned that they were making life decisions for their own mental health felt good to hear as well. But it was her comments about feeling ashamed that especially hit home for me.
I can’t understate the role shame plays in society’s struggle against the stigmas against mental health and suicide. There are so many people who admit they couldn’t share their mental health experiences sooner because they were “ashamed or embarrassed” of what would happen. In fact, many people have worked even harder to overcome those feelings because of heightened stigmas in various industries and communities. I’ve said it before, but this interview continued to prove the point that mental health does not discriminate – it can come for anyone at anytime, and it’s important to stay on guard and maintain your wellness when you can.
It was also encouraging that discussing her mental health and struggles with suicidal thoughts was only one part of a wide-ranging interview. Very often, public conversations about mental health are only about mental health. But our mental health doesn’t happen in a vacuum – mental health impacts so many areas of our lives and deserves to be part of the larger conversation. The more we bring up mental health as a factor in conversations about our lives, the more we shrink the stigma and open the door for others who might need to share similar struggles. I appreciate Meghan and Harry’s openness and honesty, and I hope it continues to spur the importance of mentioning mental health in public conversation.