H&M vs HM

Having been so hyped by every subsection of the media, you could be forgiven for believing that the it had already happened. Clips were being shared to no end, and tabloids already speculating about what would be said, as if it already had been. I am, of course, referring to that interview.

When comparable high-profile interviews draw so much speculation and frenzy of media attention, that very publicity often makes them underwhelming, with the same soundbites that have already made headlines, making them again. Not in this case. An interview that had already shocked a huge section of society, had the affect of re-shocking (if you will) those very same people.

I have no particularly strong views about the ‘issue’ of Harry and Meghan deciding to leave their roles within the Royal Family, nor to I purport to be a monarchist or, even, an antimonarchist. But I do have strong views about mental health. I sympathise with anyone who has ever had any form of mental health affliction, and empathise fully with anyone who has had to endure the horror of losing someone to suicide. Mental health as a whole is, arguably, one of the most pertinent issues of our times. An epidemic in its own right and it should be treated with as much impetus as an epidemic of any other kind. But it’s not a physical health issue, and therefore is still not treated with the same fervour. You will have heard that sentiment expressed, in various ways, for years, but it’s still painfully as true.

Meghan Markle lives within the upper echelons of society. A Duchess, she lives a life of wealth and privilege. This is all true, and you cannot negate her fortune in that respect, but let’s not kid ourselves that the aforementioned become a barrier, a deterrent, to any sort of mental health issues. Wealth and privilege will not stop you from suffering any form of illness. If you are having feelings that compel you to do physical harm to yourself, having a butler or eighteen bathrooms isn’t going to help. Why then, do we as a society seem intolerable to the idea that someone who has more than us, has the same issues we do?

A few years ago, I read an article in one of the broadsheets (which one, I don’t know, and it seems unjust to speculate) about Scarlett Curtis, daughter of Richard Curtis and Emma Freud. The article (by a female writer, whom I can’t recall the name of) contained the writers musing that she was sceptical of Scarlett’s well-vocalised mental health issues, as she lived such a privileged life. I remember being shocked by that sentiment, and I still am. Unfortunately, this is a view that seems to be becoming commonplace; even more so in the case of Harry and Meghan (due, almost entirely, in my view, to the fact that they live in, really, the most privilege it’s possible to obtain. This should, though, be inconsequential). Why? I think the answer is complex and more deeply-rooted within our society than we even care to explore. We have, and always have had, a tricky relationship with mental health issues. In the not-so-distant past, you would have been called “deranged and dumb”, and been treated as ‘different’ to the general population. Today, you will, evidently, be hounded, disbelieved and be treated as ‘different’ by the general population. I admit, this could be a view symptomatic of my already pessimistic, sceptical view of Earth’s populous, but I am certain that people do feel that way. We are, compared to physical injury, intolerable of mental injury. More need to be done. NHS and CAMHS waiting lists are simply too long, symptomatic of both consistent government underfunding and, crucially, government inaction. Not enough is being done.

The interview has already had damaging affects–especially in the States but here, too–to perceptions of the monarchy and of England as a whole. But I hope that that isn’t its legacy. I hope that people will be encouraged to speak out if they have, at any time, felt anything like Meghan has, and I hope that hearing from someone from the uppermost societal perch will make some understand that this can, and does, happen to everybody, irrespective of their background or who they are or their standing in the world. A Duchess can feel the exact way that you may be feeling right now.

So before you head to Twitter to exclaim, among the echo-chamber of your followers–spurred on by the echo-chamber of the people you follow–that Meghan and Harry are whiny non-royals who need to check how many bathrooms and shut up, maybe take a minute. Remember the post that’s doing the rounds on social media at the minute: “Meghan won’t see the post you’ve shared about how she’s lying about being suicidal, but your friend who’s feeling the same way, might” (or words to those affect).

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