Breaking the Glass Ceiling– Deepika and Depression

Rarely have we witnessed an Indian female actor being hailed as a global influencer.  Joining the coveted club this year, along with Pryanka Chopra, is Padmaavat star Deepika Padukone. Raising a toast at the 2018 Times Annual Gala, to all the people battling depression around the world, the Bajirao Mastani fame actor choked up on her own struggle with anxiety and depression.

Diagnosed with clinical depression in 2014, she went public about her ailment in 2015.In an exclusive interview to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, Deepika opened up about her struggle with the mental ailment. Breaking norms, she became one of the few superstars ever to disclose a well-guarded psychological disorder. Well aware of the ramifications of her disclosure, she braved to face the repercussions for the sake of ending the stigma attached to mental illness in our society. She laid her heart bare in front of the world, giving access to the most vulnerable details of her life. Her interview was received with both bouquets and brickbats. While the B-Town showered her with love and support, some tabloids termed it as a mere gimmick. Some even went to the disgusting length of lampooning it as a well thought out promotional strategy for an upcoming film. But Ms Padukone stood steadfast in her resolve to reach out to the depressed in need of urgent help, and with that noble intention started the Live Love Laugh Foundation.

The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) aims at changing the deprecating manner in which mental illness is perceived in India. Consisting of eminent psychiatrists and social influencers, the TLLLF’s board of trustees, comprises seven prominent members, viz. Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Dr.Shyam.K.Bhat, Anna Chandy, Dr.Murali Doraiswamy, Anirban Das Blah and Nina Nair. The stellar board intends to break the social stigma attached with mental disorders. Working towards a mentally saner society, the team wants an increased government involvement in the shaping of a national policy on mental health. A foundation against depression, it focuses on disseminating knowledge on mental health through community-based programmes.

One out of every four people in the world faces the risk of being subject to depression during the course of one’s lifetime. As per a WHO report, India seems to be the most depressed country in the world. With women being more prone than men, a WHO statistics shows that 36% of Indians, mainly women have been victims to this mental disorder. Recording a yearly average of 1, 00, 000 suicide cases, our country reportedly has the highest rate of suicides in the world. Facing a dearth of psychiatrists, our nation consists of a dismal number of a mere 3,500 trained psychiatrists. The picture is drearier on the counseling and psychology fronts. With an average of just three psychiatrists available for a million people, the mental health of the nation seems to be at a critical point. There is also a paucity of knowledge regarding these mental ailments.

Making it a tabooed subject, the society has attached a sense of shame and disapproval to these ailments. Unlike the physical diseases, mental disorders are treated with contempt. Also adding to the disdain is the societal notion that one’s mind could be self-controlled. Treating them as aberrations, the society has created a sense of apprehension among the people to openly discuss these disorders. The fear of ostracization has curtailed the mentally afflicted from seeking help. Encouraging them to stay in denial, the society has just turned a blind eye on this highly sensitive issue. With such a bleak scenario in the country, the bold disclosure of Ms Padukone has flickered a tiny glimmer of hope for change.

In partnership with NIMHANS, the Foundation ensures bi-monthly or fortnightly visits by psychiatrists to Davangere, for the creation of awareness and the treatment of those in need. In collaboration with `The Association of People with Disability’ (APD), TLLLF extended quality psychiatric treatment, earnestly striving for the recovery of Persons with Mental Illness (PwMI). Extending help in the taluks of Harihara, Jagaluru, Harapanahalli & Davangere, the foundation successfully reached out to 819 PwMIs. Extending training to ASHA workers, ANMs (Auxiliary nurse midwife) and health officials at Taluk and PHC (Primary Health Care) levels, the flagship initiative ensures bi-monthly or quartely hosting of residential health camps in these taluks.

Unhindered by her personal struggle, Deepika has channeled all her pain towards alleviating the abject state of the battling patients. Her inspiring battle against depression is indeed worth all the accolades. We can’t agree any less to Vin Diesel’s eulogy of Deepika where he called her ‘the best that the Earth has to offer’. An oasis of calm, our Bangalore girl is indeed a global influencer.


Picture Credits: AFP/VoiceofIndia

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