Oprah Winfrey’s Sunday night interview with Meghan and Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, contained many shocking and disturbing allegations of apparent regal racism, rigidity and dysfunction that will keep royal family obsessives buzzing for days. But by offering an almost textbook example of how not to deal with what appeared to be a case of perinatal mental health struggles, experts say it may also provide an opportunity for the public to learn how to handle these difficult situations.

When Meghan, who was pregnant at the time and being hounded by Britain’s notoriously noxious tabloids, first told her husband that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Harry was at a loss, he said to Winfrey.

Although he wanted to be there for his wife, “I had no idea what to do,” he said. “I wasn’t prepared for that. I went to a very dark place as well.”

Every partner and loved one of a pregnant person should know about the possibility of mental health challenges both during and after pregnancy and how to best help, experts said. Perinatal depression, for instance, is “the most common complication of childbirth,” according to Postpartum Support International. Ten percent of women experience depression in pregnancy and approximately 15 percent report significant depression following childbirth. Rates are even higher among people who are also dealing with poverty and teen parents, the organization notes on its website.

Here’s what experts recommend.

Don't be ashamed

“Both Harry and Meghan mentioned shame and people’s reactions as being the first emotional barrier to not being able to get the help that she needed,” said Theresa Nguyen, a licensed clinical social worker and chief program officer of Mental Health America. “This happens for a lot of people.”

“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’s suffered, but I knew if I didn’t say it, that I would do it,” Meghan told Winfrey.

Meanwhile, Harry said discussing mental health with his family “is just not a conversation that would be had.”

“For the family, they very much have this mentality of, ‘This is just how it is. This is how it’s meant to be. You can’t change it. We’ve all been through it,’ ” he said.

Nguyen said initial responses often really matter.

If a person having suicidal thoughts doesn’t feel supported, that may cause them to suppress their feelings and think they have to take care of their problems alone, she said. “They can delay getting support for years.”

Act quickly

Not receiving proper help and care for mental health conditions can be particularly dangerous for people who are pregnant or have recently given birth, said Adrienne Griffen, executive director of the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States, according to a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The study also found that the risk of death by suicide is higher for Black, low-income and young people who are pregnant and postpartum.

“We have to think about what’s going on in a woman’s brain and her body during that time frame,” Griffen said. “Estrogen and progesterone are ramping way up during pregnancy, which sort of already sets the brain into a different kind of chemical situation.”

Stressors can then feel “amplified,” she said. For Meghan and Harry, who detailed various challenges they faced as members of the royal family in Sunday’s interview, it was “sort of a perfect storm,” Griffen said.

“I just can’t imagine the stress that they were both under,” she said, “and being told, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you,’ is just like a dagger to the heart.”

Normalize conversations

While many people often hesitate to seek help for mental health conditions, expectant or new mothers may find it especially difficult to do so because of societal expectations surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, said Julie Bindeman, a licensed reproductive psychologist based in Rockville, Md.

“We have such a narrative that new motherhood is supposed to be this penultimate time of being a woman and that mothering is that apex experience,” Bindeman said. “So what does it say about me if I’m having difficulty during what should be this ‘prime’ for me, this time when I am so much of a woman because that’s what society says.”

Those expectations, experts say, were likely exacerbated for Meghan, who is not only a public figure, but a “royal.”

“If you’re a royal, that illusion of perfect is one that you have to maintain,” said John Draper, executive director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “Any crack in that armor can feel very threatening.”

Meghan told Winfrey she received no aid, despite repeatedly reaching out: to the palace, to other members of the royal family, and even to the palace’s human resources department, “begging for help, saying very specifically, ‘I’m concerned for my mental welfare.’ ”

Instead of minimizing or dismissing someone’s mental health concerns, experts say health-care providers and loved ones should initiate regular check-ins.

“We have to ask women how they’re doing during pregnancy and postpartum,” Griffen said. “We cannot wait for them to say, ‘Hey, I need help,’ because typically by the time they raise their hand and say, ‘Hey, I need help,’ they needed help weeks or months ago.”

There has been a “big push” among OB-GYNs and mental health specialists to start screening for depression and suicidal thoughts among pregnant people, said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Ideally, Griffen noted, these screenings should be happening every trimester, at or around the time of delivery and throughout the first year postpartum.

Family and friends, she added, can do their part by simply asking how the person is doing. “This should be a normal part of the conversation.”

Be ready with help

If your loved one says they are struggling or having thoughts of suicide, you should be prepared to suggest coping tools, and mental health resources or professionals.

Meghan said Harry “cradled” her when she told him. At a public event not long after that, which Meghan said she insisted on attending because she couldn’t be left alone, she and Harry were photographed holding hands so tightly you could “see the whites of our knuckles.”

“We’re smiling and doing our jobs, but we’re both just trying to hold on,” she said in the interview.

Griffen said it appeared Harry acted appropriately in the moment.

“If anybody ever expresses suicidal thoughts or ideations, that person should not be left alone,” she said.

In the United States, the “number one resource” for pregnant people or new parents is Postpartum Support International, Griffen said. Bindeman added that the group offers free helpline support for mothers and fathers as well as online group meetings.

Additionally, you can find a trained professional through your loved one’s health-care provider, or contact a 24-hour crisis hotline. Those hotlines can also be a resource for those trying to help.

Make sure the person you’re concerned about is in a safe environment, Moutier said, by offering to help them remove or securely store weapons or medications.

“This is really important. This is something very practical that any family member or even a colleague could do, to say, ‘How can I help you make your home safe? So while you’re not doing your best, we make sure that you get through this well.’”

Be a constant, supportive presence

For people who aren’t able to immediately connect with professional help, Draper said, family members and friends can practice “emotional CPR,” by listening and providing nonjudgmental support. Oftentimes, he noted, only loved ones can say potentially “lifesaving words,” such as “I love you” or “I’m always going to be here for you.”

Even if a person is able to start counseling or therapy, experts emphasized that it doesn’t mean your support is no longer needed.

“The expectation for so many loved ones is, ‘Great, the person is in therapy. They’re going to be fine,’ ” Bindeman said. “And that isn’t necessarily what the course of treatment looks like.”

“It’s a hard road for everyone involved,” she added.