Finally, the growing dialogue surrounding mental health awareness is impossible to ignore.
Helping to erode the long-held mental health stigma are some of the world’s most familiar faces – both in Hollywood and across the pond.
Everyone’s favourite royal redhead Prince Harry has taken an important initiative for mental health awareness.
Over the weekend, Prince Harry gathered sports stars at Kensington Palace for some barbecued eats and to engage in a powerful dialogue, as they shared their own personal experiences with mental health issues.
The event was for the mental health charity Heads Together – an initiative he started with his brother and sister-in-law, Prince William and Kate Middleton. The charity was announced back in April, along with an accompanying PSA in which the three royals remind viewers that “mental health is just as important as physical health.”
Harry remained outspoken at Heads Together’s recent event.
“Everyone can suffer from mental health,” says Harry in a video from the BBC. “Whether you’re a member of the royal family, whether you’re a soldier, whether you’re a sports star. It doesn’t really matter. Everyone can suffer.”
He has suffered himself.
Harry said he regrets not talking about the death of his mother, the late Princess Diana, who died when he was just 12-years-old. He says he didn’t open up about it until three years ago, suffering in silence for years.
While mental health issues affect one in five Canadians at some point in their lives, death will affect each one of us at some point, if it hasn’t already.
If not acknowledged and addressed, grief can lead to everything from depression to addiction.
As Harry highlights, one of the most important elements about grieving is the ability to talk about your feelings.
“It’s OK to suffer, but as long as you talk about it. It’s not weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not recognizing it and not solving that problem,” says Harry, revealing a softer side to the hard partying bad boy rep he gained in recent years.
And he is right.
In tragic times, it helps to talk things out – whether with a professional or with loved ones. It’s even more important to feel all the emotions and let yourself totally break before repairing yourself if that’s what you need to do.
Otherwise, unresolved grief will just manifest itself in your life down the line.
You can’t stifle grief, as much as you try to.
I don’t mean to preach or claim to have a PhD in psychology. But I can speak from experience.
Like Harry, I too lost a parent at a young age. I too refused to talk about it for a long time. It was too painful to address and re-open; I was too guarded. I’ll spare you the details, but my inability to speak about it until my early twenties resulted in a slew of challenges – from childhood tantrums to some very rebellious teenage years.
It still affects me to this day, years after I finally began talking about it.
Like mental health issues, there seems to be a lingering stigma when it comes to talking about death and grief – an irony because they affect all of us at some point. The stigma centres on the showing of emotions as weak, vulnerable or even embarrassing.
But being emotionally aware and in-tune is essential to fully process grief.
In a society where emotions are increasingly left out of the equation – from dating to the workplace – we need to stop pretending that they don’t exist and aren’t an essential element to basic human well-being and healing.
It’s beyond time.