One of the directors behind Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey’s Apple TV+ show, “The Me You Can’t See,” opened up about the Duke of Sussex’s decision to undergo therapy on-camera for the documentary series.
The series sees celebrities and everyday people interviewed about their mental health as well as how they’re being shepherded by professionals through their personal mental health issues. That includes the 36-year-old who hasn’t been shy about speaking out and revealing some deep, often painful truths about his life growing up as a member of the British royal family.
Speaking about Harry’s decision to be so open and public about his own mental health journey, director Dawn Porter spoke with Town & Country magazine about his decision to undergo therapy on the show for the whole world to see.
“Asif Kapadia [who is also directing the docuseries] was working really closely with Harry, and it was really interesting because we were working on the series for so long that we knew a lot about what Prince Harry was doing to maintain his mental wellness,” she explained. “And when you have Oprah Winfrey and the best advisers on the planet, you get access to a lot of the best research and the best medicine.”
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Porter went on to explain that it was actually Harry’s idea to use the new platform to make a bold statement and destigmatize seeking therapy to maintain one’s mental health.
“Harry, he volunteered, he was game for trying something,” she explained. “And we thought well, we have the opportunity to film this [therapy] and maybe this is something that will work for some people, maybe it won’t, but the idea is that you don’t tick a box and you’re done, mental wellness is an ongoing pursuit. You have to continue to try new things and to push yourself, and his volunteering to try something was a great way to emphasize and underscore that point.”
The documentary series saw the Duke of Sussex speak out about potentially sensitive family matters such as his use of drugs and alcohol to cope with his mother, Princess Diana, dying when he was young. He also shared that life in the royal household meant that a lot of conventional options for mental health assistance were not available to him or his wife, Meghan Markle.
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“I thought my family would help, but every single ask, request, warning, whatever, it is just got met with total silence, total neglect,” Harry revealed in one episode. “We spent four years trying to make it work. We did everything that we possibly could to stay there and carry on doing the role and doing the job. But Meghan was struggling.”
Porter explained that using the show to get personal about his mental health is a bid by him and Winfrey to show that therapy and opening up emotionally should not create a barrier to entry for those considering therapy.
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“Both Oprah and Prince Harry had very personal and deep feelings about destigmatizing conversations around mental health and mental wellness,” she told the outlet. “This was really important to both of them, and so they were extremely hands-on. We had meetings every other week. We would look at footage of different possible participants. We would talk through their stories. We would talk to what each story would bring to the series, and that also led to both of them participating.”
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She added: “They were seeing in real-time how our subjects were opening up, and then they both really opened up too, so I’m really proud of that, that they were so involved and it was such a collaborative effort for our team.”