Bollywood star Deepika Padukone on Monday received the prestigious Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos for her contribution in the field of mental health. The award was a recognition for her organisation Live Love Laugh’s contribution to tackling issues related to mental health in India.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus showered praise on Deepika, saying “your openness and vulnerability are helping others to seek help and helping to break down stigma”. A WHO report in 2018 had announced that India was the most depressed country in the world while leading scientific journal Lancet recently said, in a study conducted between 1990 and 2017, that one in seven people in the country suffered from a mental illness.
Deepika, who has been praised for essaying the role of an acid attack survivor in her latest release Chhapaak that opened to critical acclaim earlier this year, had come out with her struggles with depression a few years ago.
“Depression is a common medical illness,” Deepika said in her acceptance speech. “It is important to understand that anxiety and depression are like any other illness and are treatable. Acceptance is the first step to recovery. It was the experience with this illness that encouraged me to set up Live Love Laugh.”
More and more celebrities from India, including movie stars as well as sportspersons, are coming out with stories about their struggles with mental health. This has not only helped in raising awareness but also in removing the stigma around mental health problems to a certain extent.
After scoring yet another international century, India’s superstar cricket captain Virat Kohli had recently revealed that he had been through some tough times five years ago, during a difficult tour of England. Kohli was speaking in support of fellow Australian cricketer Glenn Maxwell, who had announced a break from playing international cricket to focus on his mental health.
On Sunday, former India cricketer Praveen Kumar revealed he had contemplated committing suicide in an interview to the Indian Express, but stopped while thinking about his young children. “India mein depression concept hee kahan hota hai (Who understands depression in India)? Nobody knows about it and in Meerut, certainly not,” said the 33-year-old.
The suicide of celebrities like Hollywood star Robin Williams and TV presenter Anthony Bourdain brought their long-standing struggles into the limelight. National Alliance on Mental Health’s Katrina Gay told ABC News that the death of Robin Williams played a huge part as people identified with his problems. “That’s why the celebrity stories are so important; so many people relate to them,” she was quoted as saying.
Overcoming the illness
Hearing about mental health issues from role models can help individuals be more accepting of their own struggles, and encourage them to seek and accept help. It also goes to show that mental health issues can strike anyone, regardless of their fame or socioeconomic status in society.
By being more open, speaking to near and dear ones, seeking therapy and counselling have helped celebrities such as Deepika, Kohli and Praveen Kumar overcome their struggles to an extent. It also made many of their fans realize that there are ways to overcome depression and that acceptance is the first step.
A prime example of overcoming challenges around mental health has been wushu champion, Abida Akhtar, from Kashmir. Abida braved the loss of her policeman father at just 18 months old, overcame the stigma of a failed marriage, battled depression to return after a break and become a multiple-times medalist in the little-known martial art.
Despite the rising instances of suicides and mental health cases worldwide, the widespread acceptance of mental health issues in social conversations and dialogues is a step in the right direction. The ‘visibility’ of celebrities discussing their battles in public helps break down the wall surrounding mental health in the country.
For more information, read our article on Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention and Treatment.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
Updated Date: Jan 22, 2020 18:02:25 IST