How Deepika Padukone Helped Open Up Discussions Around Mental Health In India

Posted by Krishni Kaikini in Health & Life, Mental Health
February 16, 2017

A few months ago, I found a Teen Vogue post on my news feed titled ‘When My Depression Seems like Laziness to Others’. It was simple, insightful and extremely relatable.

Now, Teen Vogue is the last place I’d expect to find something like this. But this article led me to another one, and another one, and another one, until I realized I had stumbled across an online newsletter called The Mighty, dedicated to discussing mental health issues and inviting accounts from all over the world about what it’s like to battle any and all forms mental diseases.

The post I read was authored by a 20-year-old living in North Carolina, USA, and I found comfort in the writings of a girl miles away from me, in a culture very different from mine.

Teen Vogue is a magazine that by definition, caters to fashion, beauty and entertainment preferences, and to me the fact that a platform such as this realised the importance of young girls knowing that depression exists, was something to be yelled from the rooftops and celebrated.

When I was 14, I knew nothing about depression or anxiety or panic attacks, but I should have. I should’ve been taught to notice the signs and symptoms and told that it is okay to admit to suffering from it, and ask for help.

Instead, I listened to Avril Lavigne’s Nobody’s Home without comprehending a single word of it then, and floundered aimlessly four years later when I started to relate to every word in the lyrics.

“Her feelings she hides
Her dreams she can’t find
She’s losing her mind
She’s falling behind

She can’t find her place
She’s losing her faith
She’s falling from grace
She’s all over the place” 

Our generation may have a long list of questionable morals but the one thing we have proudly abandoned is shame in expressing emotions of sadness.

A majority of the educated young adults throughout the world write about it, talk about it and openly acknowledge the need to discuss it.

I can even venture to say that we have reached a point where we are able to even joke about it to a certain extent.

Deepika Padukone was the first Indian celebrity, in my knowledge, to openly acknowledge her battle with depression.

I remember watching her interview on NDTV where she spoke of how there was no particular reason for it to hit her, how it just happened and people judged her, wondering what possible pretext she could have to be ‘sad’.

A year later, she founded the Live Love Laugh Foundation, which champions the cause of mental health, giving it as much importance as any major physical disease. Advertised under the beautiful tagline of ‘Parvah Hai, toh Dobara Poocho’, (If You’re Worried, Then Ask Again) the video launching the campaign exposed how easy it is to ignore the signs that something is wrong with someone you love.

 

 

Padukone’s insistence on talking about her battle legitimised the existence of a serious problem in the minds of the average Indian citizen that worshipped her, thus starting a very powerful dialogue on mental health awareness.

Propelled by the media, and intelligent discourse, we have succeeded in at least coming close to creating a liberated collective conscience, one that will hopefully continue to evolve, so the next time someone wakes up feeling off or cries himself/herself to sleep, they know how and where to seek help.

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