Updated: Oct 6
October 6, 2023 by The People's Duchess
In the heart of the bustling metropolis that never sleeps, a significant summit is set to take place on October 10th—a gathering that promises to resonate far beyond the city's iconic skyline. The Archewell Foundation, spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, is hosting its first ever in-person summit, focusing on the critical issue of mental health awareness, specifically as it pertains to youth online. As a mental health laureate, I cannot emphasize enough how pivotal mental health support and encouragement is during these formative years.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be in N.Y.C. on Tuesday, Oct. 10 for their Archewell Foundation's first in-person event, providing a platform for parents navigating mental health challenges in today's digital age.
The Archewell Foundation will host 'The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age' to give voice to families who are passionate about building a safer online world for children and teens, PEOPLE exclusively reveals. The conversation will explore how we as a community, both globally and locally, are creating positive change and supporting one another in developing solutions to empower families and uplift our collective mental well-being.
The summit will feature parents who have experienced tragic loss connected to their child’s social media use. Meghan and Harry have been working with the parents involved in next week's event behind the scenes, PEOPLE has learned.
"The families have been engaged with The Archewell Foundation for the past year, bolstering community and driving towards solutions," a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex tells PEOPLE. "Together, they are united in their mission to share personal experiences, data, and research to ensure the same does not happen to other families."
Their passion and capability to make the world a better place is admirable. I love how hands-on the Sussexes are and appreciate how they don't just shine a light on the issue, but work with those affected, leaders in the field, and scientists to tackle the issue head-on. Most importantly, they work to develop tangible, long-term solutions to issues that have been plaguing humanity for generations. The issue of cyberbullying and dangerous online spaces kids may find themselves in has been a big problem for a long time, and it's great to see not only discussion and "learning" from the Sussexes but results and initiatives that provide real-world benefit to the masses.
The roundtable discussion features a lineup of heavyweights in mental health, journalism, and media spaces, including beloved silver fox Anderson Cooper, Former US District Attorney Sally Yates, CNN This Morning anchor Poppy Harlow, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at ServiceNow Karen Palvin, Former Obama press secretary David Axelrod, President of the Indianapolis Colts Women's Organization Kalen Irsay Jackson, and moderated by MTv beach boy next door turned distinguished gentleman Carson Daly. What a seismic panel! The combined intelligence and solutions these folks have been working on will surely be groundbreaking stuff. Having experienced unimaginable scrutiny in the last several years, this topic is something Prince Harry and Meghan are intimately qualified to have been passionate about from day 1.
Prince Harry's journey is emblematic of resilience and courage in the face of adversity. As a combat veteran, he served two tours in the Middle East as an Apache helicopter fighter. His firsthand experience in high-stress combat zones exposed him to trauma and the enduring mental health challenges that veterans often grapple with post-war.
Unfortunately, and quite shamefully, his wife has also faced her share of personal turmoil upon her move to England and marriage to Prince Harry. Once living the dream, her beautiful life of autonomy and champagne at Bergdorff's with friends utterly shattered by a relentless wave of public scrutiny and falsehoods perpetuated by British media outlets.
One particularly painful incident involved the false narrative written by the ever so vile royal rota Camilla Tominey that Meghan had made her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, cry—a narrative that was debunked in the Oprah interview. The lie led to a free for all in the press, and a pile on of unsavory characters picking apart the newlywed, newly pregnant duchess.
Even charges of Meghan bullying Kensington Palace staff were quickly thrown together at the 11th hour to preemptively hit out on the Sussexes for what Kensington Palace knew would be the truth coming out about them during the interview. It is worth noting that the palace put out a statement after more than a year, stating that the investigation had concluded and the necessary changes were being addressed. In other words, there was no investigation, no alleged "victim" would speak on the record and put their names to phony accusations, and this time, there isn't enough press bribery in the world that could undo this lie if we say she bullied the staff and she turns around and releases palace emails and messages showing the opposite happened.
The first major, outright attack against the newest Princess of the United Kingdom (and by proxy, the royal family, tbh) officially opened up the floodgates, encouraging faceless trolls, bots, and jaded individuals to spew hateful, horrifying things about any of the royals and even the children. The lie told by Tominey and left to fester by the royal family even opened up the Pandora's box of death threats against Meghan - a burden no one should bear.
Imagine being accused of things you know and the accusers know never happened, to the point where people are credibly threatening to kill you based off those lies alone. You've never said a word to any of these people, you don't know who they are, and you've never had so much as a parking ticket in your life, let alone conflict with anyone. What a nightmare.
The toll of such relentless scrutiny on The Sussexes' mental health is a stark reminder that no one, regardless of their status, is immune to the effects of trauma, harassment, bullying and constant criticism for literally anything you do.
The importance of this summit extends beyond the personal experiences of its hosts. It addresses the global crisis that is the corrosive, nearly cancerous state of the internet in 2023. The proliferation of cyberbullying and online harassment has reached alarming levels. The latest FBI reports that cyberbullying is not only linked to a rise in suicide rates among teens but also disproportionately affects minority groups and men. It's a harrowing reality that underscores the urgency of creating a safer digital space for all.
Harry and Meghan's dedication to this cause has not gone unnoticed. The Archewell Foundation famously outperformed both the Obama and Clinton Foundations in its first two years and has garnered numerous awards for it's productions including Archetypes and documentaries including the Harry & Meghan documentary and Prince Harry & Oprah's The Me You Can't See. There are even whispers of a Nobel in the works; cementing their role as advocates for mental health and the online safety reform. The summit promises to be a night for the history books—an evening of solutions from prominent voices, and a captivated (sold out!!) arena of people and families united to confront the collective trauma that many face in this digital age.
In a world where we all grapple with our mental health challenges, regardless of our backgrounds or bank accounts, the significance of Archewell's work cannot be overstated. The internet's dark underbelly knows no distinction between rich or poor—it thrives on the misery it inflicts.
As we look ahead to this momentous event, let us remember Meghan's poignant words: "For anyone struggling, you are not alone." In these words, we find the essence of what it means to champion mental health—to stand together, support one another, and take action to build a world where everyone can find solace and healing.
2023 By The People's Duchess
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