End the Mental Health Stigma with #OKToSay

by | May 2, 2017 | Health & News

Following years of “total chaos” from the trauma of losing his mother, Prince William finally convinced Prince Harry to seek help. The royal family has made it their mission to end the stigma around mental illness. Both Prince Harry and William, along with the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Kate, are leading a foundation called Heads Together.

May is mental health awareness month and it couldn’t be getting more news. Recently, Prince Harry shared in an interview in London’s Daily Telegraph that he had suffered for years after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, on August 31, 1997. Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris at the age of 36, one year after divorcing her husband, Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. This year marks the 20th anniversary of her death.

“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” Prince Harry said.

He added: “I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”

In a FaceTime call, Prince William and Lady Gaga, who has made her own mental health issues known, discussed the need for open conversations about mental health in an effort to end the stigma that still surrounds these issues. Prince William says “it’s the same as physical health” and that good conversations can “really make such a difference.” When sharing anything about mental health please use the #oktosay hashtag.

Mental illness hits all races and ages. Recently, Nate Edwards, an aspiring young basketball player at San Diego City College, took his life. He had just finished up his sophomore season and his team had won the first California Community College title in city history. Having just earned a scholarship to Western State Colorado University, Nate’s future was bright. But the demons in his head led him to take his own life leaving two small boys, ages 2 and 8 months, to live without their father.

Mental disease- it’s a serious disease. Here are some sobering stats from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.org):

  • 1 in 5 adults is the U.S. – 43.8 million, or 18.5%- experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 U.S. adults – 9.8 million, or 4.0%, experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • Approximately, 18% of adults in the U.S. have experienced an anxiety disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14. Three-quarters by age 24.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the US who experiences a substance use disorder, over 50% – 10,2 million- had a co-existing mental illness.
  • 26% of homeless adults in shelters live with serious mental illness.
  • Adults in the US living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

Mental illness affects people in many different ways and people cope differently. A young 16 year old girl, Cameron Gallagher, had struggled with depression and anxiety for years and found running a salvation to her disease. One of her dreams was to create a 5K race to raise awareness of teenage depression, encouraging teens to “SpeakUp” about their personal battles with mental illness.

Another goal of Cameron’s was to complete a half-marathon. She accomplished this goal at the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16, 2014. Minutes after crossing over the finish line, she suddenly died in her father’s arms due to an undiagnosed heart condition.

speak up 5k logo for mental health awareness

Each year, her family holds a race in her honor, SpeakUp, in Richmond, Virginia and other parts of the country. This year more than 300 participated in the third annual SpeakUP 5K in San Diego which was held on April 2, 2017.

mental health speak up 5k race photo

Photo Credit: ckgfoundation.org

For more info about how you can help with this cause, please visit ckgfoundation.org.

Like any other illness, mental health should not be held in a vacuum. If you or anyone you know are suffering from mental illness, please know that it is OK to ask for help. Talk about it…Open up, and end the stigma. #OKToSay.


In health and happiness,


Dr Diana Hoppe OBGYN in encinitas, CA. signature- hormones, menopause, weight loss, pap smear, total women's health care