We are living in the year 2020. India is quite ahead in the race of developing countries after overcoming many outdated social norms and taboos. But one thing that still remains the same throughout the years is the taboo regarding mental illness.
In these tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance to recognize mental health and showing empathy towards the people who are facing it increases many folds.
However, it takes us decades when a person of significant stature who can imprint the minds of millions of people, decides to make insensitive remarks about this, instead of getting rid of taboo. The aforementioned person is our beloved Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut leaving no stone unturned in mocking depression.
On Wednesday 18th Nov 2020, Kangana Ranaut wrote to illustrator Priyanka Paul on Twitter who tried to spread the message that falling apart on days or having burnout is completely normal. Priyanka said she had meltdowns, had broken down in public, self-harmed, and lied about how she felt.
Kangana Ranaut wrote to Priyanka Paul, “Look at yourself, why don’t you take anything? You’re toxic, suicidal, sometimes creepy and this is just the beginning. Instead of lecturing me, you should probably take my advice. Change your hairstyle and start meditating.”
Apni halat dekho kuch lete kyun nahin? Self admittedly Suicidal ho, toxic ho, creepy looking bhi, aisi kaun si kami hai jo aap mein nahin? Mujhe gyan mat do mujhse gyan lo, change that hairstyle asap and learn to meditate 🙏
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) November 18, 2020
Not too long ago, Kangana had tweeted another one of her misguided opinions on mental illnesses which goes something like, “There is no valid medical proof of mental illness. Can MRI scans show bipolar and other psychological illnesses?”
Earlier, she had attacked Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone who is a depression survivor. Kangana in an interview criticized Deepika Padukone for having depression suddenly in 2015 because she was dumped by her boyfriend 8-year ago. However, Deepika Padukone never revealed the reason behind her depression.
According to Kangana, Deepika was doing good work back then, she was attending functions and her professional commitments. So how can she have depression? That particular statement was insensitive and misleading. She termed Deepika’s mental health awareness campaign as “depression dhanda” (business).
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) August 19, 2020
According to an ICMR study, Health Organisation(WHO), one in seven Indians suffer from poor mental health. India has been declared as one of the most depressed countries in the year 2018-19 data.
In the times of this pandemic, there are hundreds and thousands of people in India, myself included, who are facing anxiety and depression because COVID-19 has put our career to a halt, many have lost jobs and are facing financial problems.
It hits me like a rock when influential people like Kangana mock mental health issues.
We all know that in India, people with mental illnesses won’t come out easily to seek help because Indian society does not treat them well and they don’t get the kind of support they want. Kangana must understand that her remarks on mental health will only push vulnerable individuals into dark isolation.
It is a well-known fact that social stigma and the use of language for sufferers plays a major role that affects treatment. Stereotypes that ‘depression is your karma’ cause all the people to stay silent and they don’t seek help which sometimes even leads to drastic steps like them taking their life.
In the recent event of the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, people were ready to believe that Rhea Chokorobarty did black magic but no one was wanting to accept that it could be depression. However, his case is under investigation and nothing has come out yet. But what is sad is that people refuse to understand and believe that a person having a good social life, who goes out, laughs can not suffer from depression.
In another instance, I checked a few accounts of people who work in the field of mental health awareness including Deepika Padukone. It was so shocking and saddening for me to see how thousands of people commented under her post with supremely insensitive remarks. All this started to happen after Kangana started attacking her. This shows how much Indians care about mental health or illness.
People like Kangana who can influence the public should understand that their misleading comments about depression can put all the efforts of mental health experts in the drain. Normalizing mental illness is the need of the hour, especially during this pandemic where thousands of people are suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
We Indians consider our country as a developing nation that has overcome many social evils and taboo. But when it comes to mental health, there is a long way to go and people like Miss Ranaut make it even more difficult for those who are suffering and want to come out but can not because of the fear.