Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have unfollowed Prince William and Kate Middleton on Instagram, as well as other royal family members, including the Queen, Prince Charles, and Princess Eugenie. And while it may initially make royal fans worried that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle now only follow 16 Instagram accounts, none of which are their fellow royals, there's a great reason behind the change.
To recognize the United States' Mental Health Awareness Month and the United Kingdom's Mental Health Awareness Week, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are following 16 accounts that provide resources and support for various divisions of mental health treatment. The accounts include everything from Jameela Jamil's I Weigh movement, which promotes body acceptance, to the Crisis Text Line, where people can message "crisis counselors" about mental health-related issues they're dealing with.
In an Instagram post about the change in who they're following, the Sussexes explained that they want to "explore the extraordinary stories of strength, and the commitment to kindness" that these 16 accounts exhibit. The caption reads, in part:
"To pay tribute to all of the incredible work people across the globe are doing in this space, we are hoping to shine a light on several Instagram accounts that promote mental well-being, mental fitness, body positivity, self-care, and the importance of human connection — to not just hear each other, but to listen."
The Sussexes' message is particularly powerful, because isn't just a vague statement about mental health or "staying positive." Harry and Meghan are highlighting specific issues that fall under the mental health umbrella, including body positivity, self-care, and "human connection."
A 2018 study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that loneliness can affect as many as three-quarters of U.S. adults, particularly in their late 20s, mid 50s, and late 80s. So the importance of connection, as the Sussexes explained, is vital. In the collage they shared on Wednesday, an image of a globe reads, "You are not alone," a simple but powerful message for those struggling with loneliness. And one of the 16 accounts the royals highlighted is Talkspace, which provides online therapy and could help people who experience chronic isolation.
If Harry and Meghan's new Instagram post is any indication, they might not go back to following their fellow royals after May is over either. "Each month we will honour this same concept and change the accounts we solely follow based on a different theme or cause," the caption reads. So it's possible they'll champion a new social justice cause in June and follow a dozen or so accounts related to that topic, too.
Mental health has long been a topic of importance to the Sussexes, and it's a cause they'll continue to champion even after Mental Health Awareness Month is over. Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey are working on an Apple TV series about mental health, and it's expected to launch in 2020. It's clearly something that's super important to him and to Meghan, and their new Instagram move could inspire countless people to utilize the resources they've highlighted.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.