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Prince Harry Reveals a Royal Struggle Common to Many

04-28-2017

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 of that.”

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.