World Mental Health Week: Celebrity advocates of mental illness

Depression is a serious mental health condition which impacts a person both physically and mentally, and requires treatment. But there are a lot of stigmas attached to it. Also many do not understand its signs and symptoms due to lack of awareness, and hence people suffering from depression aren’t able to seek help at the right time. With the objective of raising awareness of mental health issues, World Mental Health Week is observed every year to coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10. The event is observed to spread awareness and mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The theme for the day this year is ‘psychological first aid’.

As the world comes together to observe Mental Health Day on Monday, let us look at the Bollywood celebrities who went through the phase and advocate awareness of mental illness.

Filmmaker Karan Johar revealed that he had suffered clinical depression, during an interview with a television channel in last month. He said that once in the middle of a meeting, he felt like he was getting a cardiac arrest. He immediately rushed to the doctor who said that it was an anxiety attack. Karan then approached a psychologist and took medication for a year and a half. He emphasised on the point that there is a need to address this issue since there is lack of awareness in the society.   

At the peak of her career, Deepika Padukone spoke about this so-called ‘taboo’ issue in March last year in a television interview. She said despite everything going great in her life and career, one day she suddenly woke up with a feeling of emptiness and would keep crying for no good reason. Her mother realised her odd behaviour and knew something was wrong with her. Deepika then consulted a counsellor and a psychologist for counselling sessions and also took medication. The actress went a step ahead and also founded a centre for mental health with an aim to help others who may be going through similar trauma that she herself faced.

Ranveer Singh is one of the most cheerful and flamboyant actors of Bollywood. He may or may not have suffered acute depression; he has never spoken about it. But he too advocates mental health and has joined the bandwagon for spreading awareness on how important it is for people with severe stress issues and mental illness, to seek help. Recently, Ranveer shared a thought-provoking message on his social media page, while supporting the foundation against depression launched by Deepika.

“1 out of every 5 Indians will suffer from depression in their lifetime. Even with all the progress we’ve made in these last few years, there is still a lot of stigmas attached to mental health and the treatment of it. This needs to change for our collective well-being. There is a difference between being sad and being depressed. There is hope for both, those who need help and for those who want to give help. Let's join hands to promote awareness about mental health along with the Live Love Laugh Foundation as they launch India's first Mental Health Awareness Campaign. Always remember to Live, Love and Laugh," Ranveer wrote.

Anushka Sharma also revealed that she took treatment for anxiety related issues and encouraged others to be open about it and not hide, as it is a normal thing. In an interview to a magazine, the ‘PK’ actress said, “I have anxiety. And I'm treating my anxiety. I'm on medication for my anxiety. Why am I saying this? Because it’s a completely normal thing. It's a biological problem. In my family there have been cases of depression. More and more people should talk openly about it. There is nothing shameful about it or something to hide. If you had a constant stomach pain, wouldn’t you go to the doctor? It’s that simple. I want to make this my mission, to take any shame out of this, to educate people about this.”

Randeep Hooda, who gets into the skin of the character he plays on screen, revealed that he went into depression after shooting for Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’ and ‘Sarabjit’. For the Omung Kumar biopic which hit screens in May this year, the method actor not only shed 18 kg weight in 28 days, but he also chained himself up, spent hours in the bathroom and tried to write letters like the real Sarabjit.

“There was a big hangover after ‘Sarbjit’ because of the involvement that was required in the film. It all lingers on. It has happened before as well. After ‘Highway’, I was depressed for a long time. I had to tell myself that I am not a petty taxi driver and that is not my life. Nobody loves me the way other characters loved mine in the film. You have to go through such things at times,” Randeep said.

Actress Ileana D’Cruz also confessed to being struggling with anxiety, depression and other issues concerning her body. In an interview to Miss Malini, Ileana revealed how she had been dealing with Body Dysmorphic Disorder and mental illness for over a decade, without knowing what it was. Finally, she went to a therapist who told her what was wrong. Constant help and support from family and friends helped her during the tough times. The ‘Rustom’ actress stressed on the importance of mental wellbeing.