By now most people have at least seen headlines about the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah. This is a good thing, because her candor about race, mental health, suicide—and the stigma she faced seeking help for her mental health—are much needed. Stigma thrives in silence.
Meghan Markle’s Famous Oprah Interview
In a highly publicized interview, Markle spoke to Oprah about her experience with the royal family, the media, and their impact on her mental health. Markle’s father is white and mother is Black; she said Prince Harry’s family had conversations about how dark their child’s skin would be. Markle has also been the target of constant—often racist and misogynistic—scrutiny from the media.
Particularly when she was pregnant, Markle says she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore, and that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.” She went to the royal household’s HR department—yes, they have an HR department—seeking help, but was told that there was nothing they could do because she wasn’t a paid employee.
Celebrities’ Candor on Mental Health Makes a Difference
Honesty about these issues from famous people has a direct impact. According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, after Princess Diana spoke publicly about her bulimia, the number of people who sought treatment for the condition doubled.
This isn’t just true of people in the royal family. According to a study published in the journal Communication Studies, “Social distance [the kind where you don’t want to associate yourself with someone, not the kind that protects against deadly disease] and negative stereotypes toward people with bipolar disorder reduced significantly following exposure to Demi Lovato’s disclosure about the disease via either TV/magazine interview.”
Many people look up to celebrities; when they talk openly about struggling with mental health, it normalizes these conversations. A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that stigma about suicide increases suicidal ideation, as it leads to shame and secrecy. Bringing these topics to the light can be life-saving.
Dr. Joy Harden Bradford—a licensed psychologist and host of the podcast Therapy for Black Girls—says this interview drives home the truth that mental health disorders can impact anyone. “No level of privilege or resources is going to kind of add as a buffer from protecting you from those things,” she said.
However, the more we have these conversations publicly, the more we can help people who are struggling feel less alone and more comfortable seeking help.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build the coping skills to thrive in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.