Issues of mental health are sorely overlooked in today’s society, and are more prevalent than ever in the face of the ongoing pandemic. On average, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with some form of mental illness: this according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In the UK, 1 in 4 people will struggle with some form of mental health issue this year.
Mental illness is most commonly divided into two categories: AMI, and SMI. AMI, or Any Mental Illness, is defined as any mental, behavioural or emotional disorder ranging from mild to severe. Serious Mental Illness, or SMI, is defined as any mental, behavioural or emotional disorder that significantly interferes with an individual’s quality of life.
In the wake of COVID-19, cases of mental illness and substance abuse have soared. In the US, 4 in 10 adults have reported common symptoms of anxiety and depression, with increased use of alcohol and other substances. The past year has taken a toll on children as well, with 22% of children polled reporting increased feelings of anxiety, sadness and isolation. Concerns over public health measures, isolation, and job loss have all played their part in what has become a veritable mental health epidemic.
As pandemic stressors continue, Apple TV+ has announced the timely release of The Me You Can’t See: a documentary miniseries created and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. Set to tackle the multi-faceted issue of mental health and emotional wellness, the series will feature guests such as Lady Gaga, Glenn Close and Langston Galloway as they share their own stories of mental illness and recovery.
Conversations will focus heavily on the effort to destigmatize the topic of mental health, confronting the toxic mindsets and social taboos that make mental health issues so difficult to discuss. Many fail to seek treatment, simply out of fear of being viewed as “crazy” or “weak”. Winfrey spoke bluntly on the topic of stigmatization, stating:
“Now more than ever, there is an immediate need to replace the shame surrounding mental health with wisdom, compassion and honesty. Our series aims to spark that global conversation.”
The film was produced in partnership with a range of mental health experts from every corner of the globe, working together to offer professional expertise on the realities of mental health. Originally slated to air in 2020, pandemic concerns delayed production but ultimately rendered the subject matter more relevant than ever.
The Duke of Sussex offered his own thoughts on the project, as well.
“The majority of us carry some form of unresolved trauma, loss, or grief, which feels–and is–very personal. Yet the last year has shown us that we are all in this together, and my hope is that this series will show there is power in vulnerability, connection in empathy, and strength in honesty.”
Working alongside Winfrey and the Duke is Emmy-nominated Dawn Porter and Oscar-nominated Asif Kapadia.
The Me You Can’t See is set to premiere on Apple TV+ on Friday, May 21st.