The Duchess of Sussex has spoken of a global “consciousness crisis” as she addressed the issue of mental health, saying: “We’re all sort of trying to power through and find some optimism”.
Meghan and the Duke of Sussex held an impromptu question and answer session with the press close to Monwabisi Beach in Cape Town.
The couple had travelled to the picturesque beach setting to learn how Waves for Change’s surf mentors are helping youngsters in need.
Asked what was the most pressing global issue when it came to dealing with the stigma around mental health, Meghan replied: “It’s just getting people to talk about it and talk to each other, right?
“And you see that no matter where you are in the world, if you’re a small community or a township, if you’re in a big city – it’s that everyone is dealing with a different version of the same thing.
“Globally I think there’s a bit of a consciousness crisis, and so the fact we’re able to be here together to see on the ground so much good work that’s being done, just because people are willing to talk to each other about it and someone’s willing to listen is huge.
“And that can apply to being here, certainly can apply to being in London, LA – doesn’t matter where you are, we’re all sort of trying to power through and find some optimism.”
Harry added: “I think most of the stigma is around mental illness, we need to separate the two… mental health, which is every single one of us, and mental illness, which could be every single one of us.
“But I think they need to be separated, the mental health element touches on so much of what we’re exposed to, these experiences that these kids and every single one of us have been through.
“Everyone has experienced trauma or likely to experience trauma at some point during their lives.
“We need to try, not eradicate it, but to learn from previous generations so there’s not a perpetual cycle.
“What’s amazing here just in a day-and-a-half – barely – conversations keep happening with all sorts of different people. So they’ve been through it and we can learn so much from that.”
Asked what the message was they were trying to get across, Meghan replied: “I think what’s amazing about being here today as you can see, there’s so much good happening in the world, and there’s so much positivity and all of this diversity and inclusivity – think the focus is on that…”
Harry said people from the local community who had suffered traumatic experiences were working with Waves for Change and were not only sharing their experiences but “able to help the younger generation”.
The duke added there was a whole generation of children with “no role models at all” but now they were being given an opportunity.
Highlighting the nearby townships the duke said: “It’s amazing to think that just on the other side of here you’ve got tin huts with all these kids with nothing, and bringing them together a nice hot meal provided by Lunchbox Fund, and the sea of which they’ve been terrified of most of their lives.
“Now they can swim, they can surf…”
Speaking about Monday when the couple visited Nyanga Township in Cape Town, the duke replied: “Yesterday was great and to start in Nyanga was amazing.”
He went on to comment on the growing issue in South Africa of violence against women: “I think everyone across the world now has probably heard about what’s been happening more recently – that kind of stuff happens all the time, every year, but it really peaked in the last month or so, we’ve done our best to keep track of what’s been going on.”
Harry added: “This Africa tour was always going to be fantastic, been looking forward to Cape Town – her first visit, I love this place.
“And again meeting the people, the energy, the fun, again the positivity, the optimism and the hope in the face of such incredible adversity.
“There are young people and older people, men and women trying to change what effectively has become the norm.”