Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Visit Local Santa Barbara Youth Group

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are putting in the work in their new community of southern California.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited with AHA! Santa Barbara, a Santa Barbara youth group. AHA, which stands for Attitude Harmony Achievement, is focused on equipping "teenagers, educators, and parents with social and emotional intelligence to dismantle apathy, prevent despair, and interrupt hate-based behavior."

Per Archewell, the Sussexes visited AHA to "learn firsthand about this generation’s experiences with social media and societal pressures, and how it affects their mental well-being. The couple engaged with these amazing youth in candid conversation, working to find solutions together."

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The Sussexes participated in an hour-long session. Matt Sayles for The Archewell Foundation
meghan harry aha santa barbara
A group photo with the teens and the royal couple.Matt Sayles for The Archewell Foundation

Harry and Meghan joined AHA for an hour-long conversation with teens (ages 14 to 18) about the negatives and positives of social media, including "the opportunities social media can provide for connection and community, as well as the ways in which it also raises issues of insecurity, peer-pressure, and potential for self-harm, among other risks."

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Meghan and Harry took notes during the session.Matt Sayles for The Archewell Foundation

A key focus of the Archewell Foundation is promoting mental health awareness, and working to understand how social media (and being online, more broadly) impacts mental health. Archewell "holds a core belief that mental health is of the utmost importance, and underpins all of our work. We are regularly meeting with young people, parents, and professionals to understand the challenges they may be facing while working together to drive towards long-term solutions on- and offline."

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Meghan poses with members of AHA! Santa Barbara.Matt Sayles for The Archewell Foundation

Both Meghan and Harry have been open about their own struggles with mental health. In December, at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala, the Duchess of Sussex spoke about why it was important that she share her struggles.

"Look, I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry especially, because I know how much loss he has suffered, but I knew that if I didn't say it, then I would do it. I just didn't want to be alive anymore," Meghan said. "But ultimately, if you feel like there's someone else that has a lived experience. they've gotten to the other side, and gave an example of resilience, an example of 'there is a happy ending', I think that's what most people are probably seeking out in those moments. That's why I made the decision to just say 'if my experience can help someone else not feel the same way or to know that there's hope then it's worth every second of whatever comes with it.'"

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