Mental health has been an important issue for Prince Harry for a long time. He and his brother, Prince William, championed mental health charities for years, in large part to honor their late mother Diana Spencer. Harry in particular spent years repressing both the trauma of losing his mother and later, his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his military service.
After years of struggling with mental health issues and substance misuse combined with a fear of asking for help, he eventually sought treatment and now he’s encouraging others to seek help when they need it. By sharing his story, and elevating the voices of others, he hopes to help other people see that they are not alone.
The Me You Can’t See
On May 21 during Mental Health Awareness Month, Prince Harry and Oprah released their docuseries on Apple TV called, ‘The Me You Can’t See.’ Over the course of five episodes, they both tell stories from past of traumas they experienced, how they sought help, and why they felt motivated to make their stories public. Between their personal recollections, we hear stories from other people, such as Lady Gaga, who struggled with depression and self-harm, and Zachary Williams who, like his father Robin Williams, dealt with alcohol misuse.
Some of the stories shared in the docuseries are from other celebrities, and some are from regular people. As the series strives to highlight: Humans from all walks of life can be subject to depression, addiction, alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. What makes all these things worse is when you believe that it only happens to you and that no one can help.
During his twenties, Harry frequently relied on drugs and alcohol to numb the pain he was feeling. He would find himself drinking “probably a week’s worth in one day,” not because he was enjoying it, but because it was what his brain was telling him he needed to cope.
In the addiction treatment field, we often see people struggling with co-occurring disorders. Someone who is depressed or struggling with PTSD turns to alcohol or painkillers, they become addicted, and then one disease feeds into the other. There is a particularly strong link between substance use disorders and other mental health disorders, and people can too easily find themselves trapped in an ongoing cycle where one symptom triggers another. Alone, these cycles can be impossible to break, which is why it’s so important to reach out and be open about your struggles.
Say It Out Loud
As the first episode of the docuseries says: “you have to say it out loud.” By sharing stories of real people and their experiences, Oprah and Harry hope to teach us all to have empathy and compassion for others. Addiction and mental illness still have such negative stigmas attached to them, preventing people from seeking help and making them feel ashamed. This should no longer be the case when, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 40 million Americans struggle with some kind of mental illness. Of that number, 18% also have a substance use disorder. Odds are, you or someone you know is struggling with one or both of these diseases.
If there is one thing we can and should learn from Harry’s personal journey and his work since, it’s that asking for help is the only way to begin the process of recovery. When we say it out loud, we are opening the door to treatment, support and happier, more fulfilled lives.
Don’t wait any longer to begin your recovery journey! If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab and speak to our admissions team.