It used to be that royalty rarely discussed personal issues, and the topic
of mental illness was particularly hush-hush. But recently, Britain’s
Prince Harry opened up about his struggles after the death of his mother.
It was not just a revelation for the royals; it was also a clear signal
that mental health is an issue without
stigma or scandal.
“Harry’s telling of his story is an important step on both
sides of the Atlantic,” says Debbie Hutchinson, Psy.D., MFT, the
clinical manager of outpatient mental health programs at
Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach. “It’s an appeal for all who struggle with mental
health –and especially men who often suffer in silence –to
seek help and prevent years of pain.”
Harry, who told his story in a 30-minute interview for the British press,
spoke of the rage he felt many years after his mother’s tragic death.
Although drowning in grief, he struggled to discuss his feelings and rarely
talked about his mother or the loss he felt. “I can safely say that
losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my
emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not
only my personal life but my work as well,” he said.
Eventually, the young prince began speaking with friends and family, and
then a therapist. Today, he joins a growing list of public figures who
are advocates for speaking out about mental health.
“People sometimes think that those who live glamorous lives can’t
be dealing with problems similar to ours. The truth is, however, that
mental illness cuts a wide swath across every demographic, country and
socio-economic level,” Hutchinson says.
If it seems that more celebrities are talking about their struggles with
mental illness, it’s for a good reason. Mental health professionals
agree that when high profile individuals discuss their problems, others
don’t feel as alone or unsure of where to turn.
Recently, actor Ryan Reynolds discussed his anxiety while filming
Deadpool; and model Cara Delevingne talked about her depression, as did actor Jon Hamm.
Said Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, “I have never been remotely
ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s to be ashamed of?
I went through a really rough time and I am quite proud that I got out
Speaking about the depths of her struggles with depression, singer Lady
Gaga noted, “I learned that my sadness never destroyed what was
great about me. You just have to go back to that greatness, find that
one little light that’s left. I’m lucky I found one little
glimmer stored away.”
Even more revealing are those celebrities who open up about continuing
struggles with mental health. For example, actress Amanda Seyfried recently
discussed her daily medications for hypochondria. And author Jon Green
said of his ongoing challenges, “I take medication daily and have
for many years. I also try to exercise a lot, because there’s some
evidence that exercise lessens the symptoms of anxiety ... But it’s
a chronic illness and it hasn’t, like, gone into remission or anything
for me. It’s something I live with, something that I’ve integrated
into my life.”
“Not all of us need a celebrity, however, to help us find a way to
deal with mental health,” says Hutchinson. “Sometimes opening
up to a friend is very helpful and a positive first step. A good friend
will listen, let you know that you’re not alone, and support your
journey back to health.”
If you are struggling with an addiction or mental health issue, Mission
Hospital has dedicated physicians, nurses and staff to help you move forward
on the road to recovery. To learn more, click
here or call (949) 499-7504, ext. 2.