Deepika Padukone, taking a break from her character as Rani Padmini in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmavati that is currently being shot in Mumbai, addressed the ‘India Economic Summit’ held by the ‘World Economic Forum’ in Delhi today.
In conversation with renowned neuroscientist and physician Dr. Murli Doraiswamy and journalist Barkha Dutt, the actress addressed the subject of mental health issues.Deepika has not kept her battle with depression a secret. Her revelations of her own suffering have created a massive awareness around mental health issues in India.
According to statistics shared by Dr. Murli, approximately 150 million people in India have mental disorders, the average age of depression is 30, and women are twice more likely to have it than men. More than half the population of India is under the age of 25. This bracket defined as youth is from the age of 18-25 and has the highest incidence of suicide. It typically takes most people 1-2 years before someone suffering from mental health issues recognizes the symptoms on their own. He also described the two-fold stigma around the subject of talking about mental health being the stigma that we attach ourselves to and then our friends and family who deem this taboo.
Deepika said, "Acceptance is the road to recovery. Embrace the experience and know it will get better. Initially, I was averse to taking medication. Even now I fear that a relapse can happen anytime. I lived with this feeling for a while, even during filming movies. Today, India has a high suicide rate. Hopefully, one day, India can be the happiest country in the world someday. I set up The Live Love Laugh Foundation to tell people it’s okay to feel the way you do and reduce stigma. It reached a stage when I felt, why can't I just tell people how I feel? Once I decided to seek help, it was a deep dive. I didn't hold back with treatment, medication or sharing anything. If we implement mental health education at a school level, it will help reduce stigma.
Every day brings a headline about suicide. It breaks my heart reading them because it's preventable. My mother identified the symptoms and told me that it would all be okay. If I didn't have the comfort level with my counselor I may not have reached out to her. It is important for organisations to treat mental illness the same way they treat physical illness. The biggest difference in me, pre and post-treatment is the fact that I now take care of myself. There is a lot of guilt associated with taking care of yourself, particularly in India.”