Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited a local youth group to discuss some of the everyday societal pressures that children face.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently had a conversation with a group of teens at AHA! Santa Barbara, in honour of Mental Health Awareness Month, which takes place every May.
The California-based organisation “has provided social-emotional education to over 20,000 teens and youth care providers,” per the page’s official website. Through its work, the non-profit also “equips teenagers, educators, and parents with social and emotional intelligence to dismantle apathy, prevent despair, and interrupt hate-based behaviour”.
According to The Archewell Foundation, Harry and Meghan visited this group in order to “learn firsthand about this generation’s experiences with social media and societal pressures, and how it affects their mental well-being”.
During the hour-long session, the couple spoke to teens from the ages of 14 to 18 about a range of topics, such the ways that social media offers opportunities for “connections and community”.
However the candid conversation also acknowledged how social media can impact teenagers’ issues with “insecurity, peer-pressure, and potential for self-harm”.
“These important perspectives and experiences help us understand how mental wellness intersects with the online world, and what it means to promote digital wellness in a digital age,” the statement from The Archewell Foundation explained.
The statement also noted that Harry and Meghan’s visit was a part of the foundation’s history of “engaging on critical” mental health issues and working with organisations to help “develop programs that support and inspire change”
“We are regularly meeting with young people, parents, and professionals to understand the challenges they may be facing while working together to drive towards long-term solutions on- and offline,” the statement concluded.
In photos shared by The Archewell Foundation, the royal couple smiling and laughing together, as they sat in a circle with the group of teens.
For the occasion, Meghan wore an all-black outfit, which included a pencil skirt and blouse, paired with gold bracelets. Meanwhile, her husband opted for a navy-blue long sleeved shirt, jeans, and blue shoes.
Over the years, both Harry and Meghan have spoken candidly about their mental health struggles. In his bombshell memoir Spare, in which he made multiple allegations about the royal family, Harry revealed how an argument with his spouse encouraged him to go to therapy.
“It came from somewhere deep inside, somewhere that needed to be excavated, and it was obvious that I could use some help with the job.” he wrote, when he described how angry he got at Meghan during their fight. “I’ve tried therapy,’ I told her. ‘Willy [Prince William] told me to go. Never found the right person.’ [It] didn’t work. ‘No,’ she said softly. ‘Try again.’”
During an episode of her Archetypes podcast that aired in October 2022, Meghan revealed how Harry helped her reach out to a mental health professional during a difficult time.
“I mean, I think at my worst point, being finally connected to someone that, you know, my husband had found a referral for me to call. And I called this woman, she didn’t even know I was calling her,” she explained.
She noted that when she told the professional that she needed help, the woman “could hear the dire state that [she] was in”. The duchess then added that it is important “for all of us to be really honest about what it is that you need and to not be afraid to make peace with that, to ask for it”.
Meghan’s also came after she opened up about the depression she experienced as a working member of the royal family during her and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021.
Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan’s recent conversation with the youth group comes a week after the duke attended the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey. While her husband was at the event on 6 May, Meghan stayed home in California with their two children, Prince Archie, four, and Princess Lilibet, one.