Meghan Markle has openly discussed receiving "almost unsurvivable" levels of online abuse in a heartbreaking new conversation.
She and husband Prince Harry have made a guest appearance on the popular Teenager Therapy podcast in recognition of World Mental Health Day.
The couple, both wearing face masks for safety, spoke candidly with their young hosts and introduced themselves as "Harry and Meghan" rather than their formal titles.
The discussion turned to the coronavirus pandemic which has seen schools close and millions of children and teens stuck at home with not much to do except turn to social media.
"If you're not in school then you're finding yourselves on your devices or online more, right, and there's a lot of vulnerability there that I think so many people are experiencing," Meghan said.
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"Yes, it's a great way to connect, but it also ends up being a place where there's a lot of disconnection, you know, I can speak personally to."
She opened up about the difficulties she faced last year in which she was named the world's most abused person online, even as she went on maternity leave and became a mum to baby Archie.
"I'm told that in 2019 I was the most trolled person in the entire world, male or female," she explained.
"Now, eight months of that I wasn't even visible, I was on maternity leave or with a baby.
"But what was able to just be manufactured and churned out, it's almost unsurvivable, that's so big, you can't think of what that feels like, because I don't care if you're 15 or 25, if people are saying things about you that aren't true, what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging."
She added: "Part of the work that we do is from our own personal experience, being able to talk to people and understand that, even though our experience is unique to us, and obviously can seem very different to what people experience on the day-to-day, it's still a human experience and that's universal.
"We all know what it feels like to have our feelings hurt, we all know what it feels like to be isolated or othered."
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Harry, who has in recent years revealed his struggles to come to terms with his mum's death, said conversations about depression and anxiety should include "every single one of us".
"I think the way everything's happening in the world right now, the moment that people start to think about mental health, immediately people think about a small group of people as opposed to every single one of us," he said.
The prince went on: "I think if you could safely say that 90% of people on planet Earth have suffered some form of trauma, some form of loss, some form of grief, and that's different, it varies to every single person, then certainly for this year, through Covid, I think it's probably safe to say that 99.9%, if not 100% of people, have experienced some form of one of those, all those, at the same time.
"Rather than mental health being focused on, the people that are struggling, it needs to go much wider than that, and to the acceptance and the appreciation that every single one of us have mental health, and every single one of us have got stuff going on that we either need to talk about or that we need help with, or that we have some form of compassion and empathy for other people that are going through something similar."
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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