March 11, 2021

The Eight Hundred Thousand

We have seen sparks fly on a global scale this week as the phenomena of ‘Megxit’ opened the cupboard up for the world to pick through its skeletons. The Oprah interview was explosive in relative terms to the privacy and dignity of the institution’ that is the royal family. Extrapolating out the family drama that exists in everyone’s families, the public dialogue between a grandmother and her son and daughter-in-law has started an important conversation and I want to take a look at that.

Take away the titles, the millions and the celebrity of it all, and you have a woman who disclosed to the world that she had suicidal thoughts. 800,000 people annually take their own lives. No. I’m going to write out that number. EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND people take their own lives, annually.

Megan does not present as an ideal victim – she is wealthy, educated, connected and empowered by ‘celebrity’ in a way that few of us could actually imagine. A couple of privileged celebrity royal millionaires unloading to a billionaire in a luxury villa is not the ‘battler’ that we are tuned into hearing on the topic of struggle.

The professional critics who have slammed her for this disclosure, calling it attention-seeking or narcissism, ignore the fact that none of Megan’s unsympathetic attributes are insulating factors for mental illness. EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND lives annually, and what if Megan was one of them?

Closer to home, what if YOU were one of those people thinking about it? How would the comments of the press and the soapbox army from social media in relation to Megan impact your access to help in a mental health crisis.

What if one of your children was feeling that way but when Megan, a modern woman with every advantage was not taken seriously and criticised so harshly, do you think that might become a barrier for them to start a conversation about getting help? We need to make sure that it doesn’t.

When you next ask your work colleague, ‘Are you OK?’, to what extent will this shut down an important conversation that could have started the road back to wellness.

We are hopefully starting to realise that this conversation is not about Megan and Harry or the Royal Family. It is about how we welcome this conversation and the assumptions we carry about who is impacted or affected by barriers to mental health.

While Megan has already formally complained about the comments of the gallery including her long time critic Piers Morgan, she is unlikely to read the myriad of comments from everyday people on social media or around the water cooler with regards to her ‘suitability’ as someone who experienced a mental health challenge.

Megan won’t see the comments that doubt and distrust her motives in making that disclosure, but who will. Our friends, family, and colleagues will see them. It creates another barrier to the conversation it takes to get help.

Let’s be in the business of breaking barriers, not building them.

Need to talk to someone?

Don’t go it alone. Please reach out for help.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au

Beyond Blue’s coronavirus support service: 1800 512 348 or coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Headspace: 1800 650 890 or headspace.org.au

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