Oprah shares why she thinks too many people are suffering in silence

Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

For Oprah Winfrey, the national conversation on mental illness is personal.

The 61-year-old philanthropist and media mogul opens up about watching loved ones struggle in the February issue of O magazine.

“In recent years I’ve come face-to-face with mental illness, as several people close to me were hospitalized with severe suicidal depression and manic and schizophrenic thoughts,” she says. “More than once I’ve sat in the psych ward waiting to hear the diagnosis.”

Winfrey, the new part-owner of Weight Watchers, reveals that she’s also suffered from her own anxiety and depression in the past.

In the issue, several mental health professionals and patients share their stories and their journey, something Winfrey thinks is important to changing the conversation surrounding such diagnoses.

“We, as a culture, have not fully acknowledged how much help is needed,” she says. “The only real shame is on us for not being willing to speak openly. We need to start talking, and we need to start now.”

Winfrey also recently discussed her struggle with weight gain, calling herself wishy-washy with diets and exercise.

“Now I’m ready to go beyond the scale and declare a new way of being in the world,” she said.

The host purchased a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers back in October.