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Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry have teamed up for an important docu-series that couldn’t be better timed for the state of the world today.
The limited series, The Me You Can’t See, now streaming on Apple+, is an in-depth exploration of the mental health crisis told through the eyes of those feeling it most, but for Winfrey and Prince Harry, the project is about much more than furthering the global conversation around mental health—it’s an opportunity for those suffering with mental health issues or disorders to see themselves in someone else and know that they matter.
As co-creators and executive producers on this one-of-a-kind project, Winfrey and Prince Harry joined forces to shed more light on the diversity and range within our mental health journeys and the series will feature journeys from everyday people and from high profile guests, like Lady Gaga, NBA’s San Antonio Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan and actress and producer Glenn Close.
In an intimate interview with ESSENCE, Winfrey and Prince harry opened up about this special project, discussing how it came to be, what it means to them and why they believe everyone should feel seen and heard.
“We wanted people to not just be able to see themselves but to see family members and to know that everybody’s going through something,” Winfrey told ESSENCE. “And, in our country alone, The United State of America, one out of five people say they’re struggling from some form of mental illness. One out of five means either you or someone you know is going through something on any given day, and your ability just to ask that question, you know, ‘are you okay’ and to be able to look at a person from the point of view of what has happened to them and not just what they are displaying. What the experience is showing you I think is invaluable.”
Winfrey once famously told one of the young guests on her show, Alex, that it just takes one person to see you to make a difference. In the docuseries, viewers learn what happened in Alex’s life after that life-changing on-air moment and how she and Winfrey’s friendship has evolved through the years. It also explores Alex’s battle with PTSD. When asked what those who don’t believe they know that “one person” who believes in them should do to find that person, Winfrey offered sound, heartfelt advice.
“One of the most important things is that it doesn’t have to be somebody in your family,” Oprah shared. “A lot of people think that you have to have a family member, or it has to be something that you were born into or born with. It’s anybody who is willing to actually see you and validate your personal humanity. That’s what could make a difference in a person’s life, and you know, I was able to do that for Alex, but one of the things that we wanted to emphasize for this series is that every person is on a spectrum. And let’s say that spectrum is 1 to 10, on any given day you may be a ten plus—some days I feel like I’m an 11,12 and, on another day, you might be a minus two or minus four.”
For those, like him, who’ve lost a parent and are struggling with grief. Prince Harry encourages you to take the time you need to process the loss and understand how it’s affecting your life.
“Work it through,” Prince Harry said. “Allow your body and your mind to process the loss. Process the grief. That’s a very human thing that we should be doing. But the way society has become, it inevitably encourages us to hold it in.”
It’s never going to be easy work, Harry explains, but it’s necessary.
“Understand that that’s a huge deal to lose anyone, mother, father, grandparent, brother sister, whatever it is,” Harry continued. “Any loss within family is something where you really need to process it because otherwise it manifests itself and then it will affect you later In life. There’s no part of this where you can just absorb loss, grief, pain, trauma over and over again as you get older and then for it not to show up in a different way perhaps through rejection, depression, whatever it is, so really be as proactive as possible and accept that what has happened to you in painful and hurtful and you need to heal, and we all need to heal together.”
Watch the full conversation between ESSENCE Lifestyle Director Charli Penn and Winfrey and Prince Harry above. The Me You Can’t See is streaming on Apple+ now.