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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are all smiles during surprise outing in Santa Barbara

The couple's visit to local youth group AHA! Santa Barbara was in  recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month

 The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent an hour with local youth group AHA! Santa Barbara

Prince Harry and Meghan were seen laughing and having fun in new photographs. The Duke, 38, and Duchess of Sussex, 41, were in their element as they paid a visit to local youth group AHA! Santa Barbara earlier this month. To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, the couple offered their time to teenagers aged between 14 and 18 and they held honest discussions about mental health.

Meghan Markle during an outing in Santa Barbara© Matt Sayles for The Archewell Foundation
The couple learned firsthand about this generation's experiences with social media and societal pressures, and how it affects their mental well-being

Prince Harry and Meghan openly discussed social media with the teenagers, looking at how it can be positively used to connect with others as well as raising issues around insecurity and peer-pressure. Their organisation, the Archewell Foundation (AWF), posted the new photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s latest charitable venture on their official website on Monday. They said it has a “core belief that mental health is of the utmost importance, and underpins all of our work”, regularly meeting with young people and professionals to understand the challenges they face while working.

Prince Harry and Meghan pictured during their visit to a local youth group, AHA! Santa Barbara© Matt Sayles for The Archewell Foundation
Prince Harry and Meghan pictured during their visit to a local youth group, AHA! Santa Barbara

Mental health is a topic both Prince Harry and Meghan are passionate about, having shared their own struggles and experiences in the past. Previously, on her podcast Archetypes, the Duchess of Sussex got candid about her own mental health. "I think at my worst point, being finally connected to someone that, you know, my husband had found a referral for me to call. And I called this woman," Meghan said. 

LISTEN: Prince Albert reveals his twins' thoughts on King Charles' coronation

"She didn't know I was even calling her. And she was checking out at the grocery store. I could hear the little beep, beep, and I was like, 'Hi,' and I'm introducing myself and can literally hear her going, 'Wait, sorry. I'm just. Who is this?' Um, and saying I need help. And she could hear the dire state that I was in." Meghan continued, "But I think it's for all of us to be really honest about what it is that you need and to not be afraid to make peace with that, to ask for it."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle posing after visiting a youth group in Santa Barbara© Matt Sayles for The Archewell Foundation
The couple posed for a group photo following their hour-long visit

Meanwhile, Prince Harry has also tried to normalise discussions around mental health. He told the Masters of Scale podcast last year: "You talk about it here in California, 'I'll get my therapist to call your therapist.' Whereas in the UK, it's like, 'Therapist? What therapist? Whose therapist? I don't have a therapist. No, I definitely don't, I've never spoken to a therapist'."

Prince Harry smiling at the coronation© Getty
Prince Harry attended the coronation on 6 May
 Prince Harry leaves Westminster Abbey after the coronation ceremony© Getty
The Duke of Sussex left the UK after the ceremony
Clad in pink, Meghan Markle cuddles up to husband Prince Harry on date night
Prince Harry and Meghan have been spotted on date nights

Their visit to the youth group comes after the couple were spotted out on a lunch date at Sushi bar in Santa Barbara over the weekend. The couple dined alongside other A-Listers such as Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Meghan and Harry with baby Prince Archie© Getty
Archie's fourth birthday was the same day as King Charles' coronation
meghan markle prince archie princess lilibet montecito home© Instagram
Harry lives in Montecito with Meghan and their children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet

Prince Harry made a flying trip to the UK for his dad King Charles’ Coronation in London in recent weeks, which coincided with his son Archie’s fourth birthday. During the service, Harry was greeted warmly by his aunt Princess Anne. While he only stayed for the Westminster Abbey service, the Duke of Sussex took home a special memento from the occasion. Then he boarded a flight home to see his wife Meghan and their two children Lilibet Diana and Archie. The day after the Coronation, the Duchess of Sussex was pictured hiking in Montecito where she was seen laughing and chatting to her friends.

Meghan wore Diana's diamond bracelet as she and Prince Harry attended the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala in New York City© Getty
Meghan and Harry have been open about their struggles with their mental health in the past
Meghan Markle in a yellow dress with Prince Harry in a suit© Getty
Prince Harry and Meghan stepped down from their royal duties in 2020

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