At the recently held World Economic Forum 2020, Deepika Padukone was felicitated with the Crystal Award for her remarkable work in the field of mental health. The ever-so-famous actor gave an empowering speech at the event and talked about her own struggle with depression, which further encouraged her to work towards spreading awareness on mental health.
Deepika strongly believes that mental health should be taken as seriously as physical health and for that, she founded The Live Love Laugh Foundation in 2015. It is a non-profit NGO that helps people suffering from depression and anxiety.
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Deepika’s battle with depression and how she came out like a champ!
She was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2014 when she was doing pretty good professionally with her movies and was also in an amazing relationship.
“Mental illness happened to me when I had least expected it. I was at a professional high, my movies were doing great and I was in an amazing relationship. Everything was going just perfect. But, One morning when I woke up and I felt all was well, I fainted. Luckily the house help came and saw me on the floor. I was taken to a doctor and I was told it was nothing and probably just some blood pressure fluctuation or something like physical tiredness” she recalls.
“Those were the first physical signs. For a long time, I just felt like sleeping, not going out, not meeting people. Luckily, my mother had come to my place and when my parents were packing, I just started crying. She asked me what was it and I had no answer. At that time, my mother told me that I probably needed professional help and that’s how I began consulting a psychiatrist,” she further adds.
Speaking at the WEF 2020, Deepika admitted that she had to lie for a long time when people asked her a simple question like ‘how are you doing?’ and she had to reply ‘good’.
This is why Deepika opened up about depression…
“As I began on my path of recovery, I also understood the stigma attached to mental health and the need to go public with it. Imagine what would have happened, if my mother had not said that I should get professional help for my problem. I felt that I should do something to help others with their signs and symptoms and that was the reason for going public with my illness and then setting up the Live Love Laugh Foundation,” Padukone revealed.
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She also said that her family was earlier reluctant to let the media know about it seeing me outside a psychiatric clinic. And this reluctance was because of the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Hence, there needs to be more awareness about mental illness and its signs and symptoms.
It’s important to address the issue of mental health
According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), there are insufficient healthcare facilities for people suffering from mental illness. In India, for every million people, there are only three psychiatrists.
Often the stigma and discrimination hold back people from seeking medical help. But if you have been feeling sad and low for a very long period of time, you must go to a psychiatrist because sadness is transient and depression is for a long period of time.
Deepika believes that there is not enough understanding about mental illness, and often people are ashamed of it.
“It is very important to share how you are feeling with somebody around you. It is also important that the people around you don’t dismiss it as attention-seeking or some small thing. It is important for caregivers to encourage people to seek help,” she adds.
In our country, often the parents are not comfortable with taking their child for professional help and sometimes it’s the other way round too.
“I want every person experiencing mental illnesses to know that you are not alone – because there are no obvious physical symptoms. You feel like you are the only one going through this, and it comes with a lot of guilt,” Padukone said.
In the end, Ghebreyesus said that the WHO would like to work with Padukone and her foundation. To her request for helping get mental health included as a part of the sustainable development goals, he assured that the entire UN system would work for that.
Since Deepika has always been vocal about her struggle with depression, this has given others the courage to come out and talk about the illness openly without a stigma being attached to it. More power to you, girl!