The Duchess of Sussex has spoken of being “the most trolled person in the entire world in 2019” in a podcast recorded for World Mental Health Day.
Meghan and husband Prince Harry joined three Californian high school students on an episode of their podcast Teenager Therapy to discuss topics including mental health stigma, self-care and online abuse.
The couple also spoke about the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s relationship with technology and social media, leading people to spend more time on their phones.
“If you’re not in school and you’re finding yourselves on your devices or online more, right? And there’s a lot of vulnerability there that I think so many people are experiencing. And yes, it’s a great way to connect but also it kind of ends up being a place where there’s a lot of disconnection,” the Duchess said.
“I can speak personally too because I'm told that in 2019 I was the most trolled person in the entire world – male or female,” she continued.
“Now eight months of that, I wasn't even visible. I was on maternity leave or with a baby. But what was able to just be manufactured and churned out. It's almost unsurvivable.
“That's so big you can't even think about what that feels like. Because I don't care if you're 15 or 25 if people are saying things about you that aren't true what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging.”
Meghan went on to discuss how her experiences have shaped the work that she and Prince Harry do in terms of tackling the stigma attached to mental health issues.
"And so I think from my standpoint, and part of the work that we do from our own personal experience, being able to talk to people and understand that even though our experience is unique to us – and obviously can seem very different to what people experience on the day-to-day – it’s still a human experience and that's universal.
“We all know what it feels like to have our feelings hurt, we all know what it feels like to be isolated or othered... we are all figuring it out.”
Meghan went on to say that she is “doing really well” at the moment.
“The past few months have been layered for everyone, we certainly can't complain, we are fortunate we all have our health, we have roofs over our heads,” she added.
Harry agreed: "The unique part of our work is whatever you're going through and whatever other people are going through, it's all relative to that environment that they're in.
“For the majority of people I've spoken to in London, or in the UK, have been stuck in high-rise blocks of flats, unable to see any open grass or open green space.”
Harry added that he and Meghan have been “incredibly grateful” to have outdoor space where their one-year-old son, Archie, can walk his first steps.
“Outdoor space where he can just have enough space to run and move around. It's a huge blessing,” he added.
“It reminds me of how many people are stacked on top of each other and have been for month after month after month after month, and what that must do to people's mental health.”
With regards to receiving negative comments on social media, Harry explained that he avoids engaging with them.
“For me, I made the choice not to read it, not to see it, and to remove myself from that, and to very much focus on the uplifting and the hopeful side,” he said.
“What I've seen so much over the years is people hiding behind usernames on the online space. There are things that are said digitally that nobody would say in person, of course.”
Meghan also spoke about an interview she gave in October 2019 with Tom Bradby as part of an ITV documentary about the couple’s tour to South Africa. Her response, which implied that no, she was not really okay, sparked global media coverage.
Recalling the interview in the podcast, Meghan said: "At the very end the journalist asked me 'well, are you okay?' and I didn't realise that my answer would receive such an interest from around the world, because I said 'well thanks, people haven't really asked me if I'm okay'.
"I didn't think about that answer, I just answered honestly, because I was in a moment of vulnerability because I was tired, because there was no presentation, it was just 'here's where I am, I'm a mum who is with a four-and-half-month-old baby and we are tired.
“But I think it speaks to the fact that the reason it resonated with people is because everyone wants to be asked if they're okay.”
You can listen to the full episode of Teenager Therapy here.