New Delhi: Stigma attached to mental ailments is the main reason why the society is struggling to address the problem, and the day we together manage to tide over it and bring awareness, we will “win this battle,” Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone today said.
The 30-year-old actress, who herself battled depression, was speaking here at the launch of a nationwide campaign to bring awareness about psychological disorders, on World Mental Health Day.
“It is important to realise that the kind of society we live in today, we have become very competitive, and drilled into it, which is a good thing, but, I also think, we have become a little less sensitive to people around us…No one should feel that they do not belong to society,” she said.
Sharing her personal struggle with depression, Deepika broke down during the function, and said, it is important that there is a supporting ecosystem of family and friends that allows the suffering person to cope with the disorder with hope and dignity.
“Two years back, my family had come to see me. They were about to leave and I was all alone in my bedroom, curled up. My mother walked in and asked if everything was okay, I said yes. She asked again if it was work or something else that was bothering me, I said no. She asked me so many times that I felt myself choking and I broke into tears. I want to tell my mother that if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here. Thank you for being with me all through the way. Thank you to my sister, my father and friends who supported my immensely.”
“When I shared my story first, I did not feel any stigma or shame attached to it. And, the reason I came out in the open about it was because I just did not want to feel what I was feeling, I did not let depression to get the better of me,” she said.
“So, I think the root cause is stigma. And the day we as a society can together get over that stigma and bring awareness about mental health issues, we will win this battle,” she added.
The campaign has been jointly launched by Indian Psychiatric Society, Indian Medical Association and Deepika’s Bengaluru-based non-profit foundation, the Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), under which they would develop outreach programmes to highlight the urgent mental health challenges that India faces.
Deepika, who recently had also become the brand ambassador of the Indian Psychiatric Society, said the campaign was dedicated to all those people who have survived mental illness.
Asked if social media was creating psychological pressure on celebrities, she said, “It is important to nurture, nourish and protect ourselves…And, I wouldn’t share what I do about it, as it depends on person to person. But, as my father told me, ‘focus on thing in your control and not fret over things which are out of your control’.”
India is home to the largest number of mental health patients in the world with at least 50 million Indians estimated to be undergoing depression at any one point in time, according to the Society’s President Dr G Prasad Rao. A special video and poster campaign, “#DobaraPoocho” (ask again) was also unveiled on the occasion. “We decided to be part of the campaign so we have volunteered and given our support. Deepika could have kept it all to herself, but she shared her struggle and turned it into a movement,” CEO, McCann Worldgroup India, Prasoon Joshi said.