While Bollywood doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to speaking candidly about mental health, a few celebrities have begun to pave the way for a more open dialogue. On World Mental Health Day (10 October), here’s a look at a few powerful statements celebs such as Karan Johar, Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma have made about dealing with mental health and battling issues such as anxiety and depression.
Deepika Padukone has been vocal about her battle with depression ever since she opened up about her mental health in an interview with NDTV in 2016. Her experience led her to set up an NGO, The Live Love Laugh Foundation, to spread awareness about anxiety and depression. A few days before her wedding to Ranveer Singh in December last year, Deepika shared a letter with her fans detailing #NotAshamed, a new campaign that the foundation had launched to encourage those struggling with their mental health to reach out.
Anushka Sharma opened up about her battle with anxiety in an interview with Vogue. The actor spoke about the need to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders and said that taking medication to manage them should not be viewed as weak or shameful.
Karan Johar may be one of the best-known faces in Bollywood but he is quite reticent when it comes to his private life. In an interview with NDTV in 2016, he revealed his experience with clinical depression and anxiety. The turning point, he said, came in 2013 when he left a meeting feeling like he was suffering cardiac arrest. A visit to a doctor revealed that it had been a panic attack. Karan mentioned that therapy was instrumental in helping him deal with unresolved issues and improving his mental health.
In 2018, Dangal actor Zaira Wasim posted a note for her fans explaining that she was taking a break from social media to deal with her mental health. She revealed that she had her first panic attack at the age of 12 and often felt empty, had hallucinations, nervous breakdowns and suicidal thoughts. She recalled how she was often told that it was “just a phase” and was in denial for a long time. She ended the note saying that after nearly five years of living with depression and anxiety, she was ready to come to terms with her mental health without being embarrassed or ashamed of talking about it.
Speaking at #EverydayHeroes, a campaign to spread mental health awareness, Hrithik Roshan divulged that he had experienced bouts of depression. He said that depression can negatively colour the way you view the world, making it all the more important to share your feelings with someone you can trust to get an objective view of your situation.
Ileana D’Cruz made a candid speech about suffering from body dysmorphic disorder at the 21st World Congress of Mental Health in Delhi where she was also awarded for her efforts towards raising awareness about mental health. She revealed that her need to be felt accepted by everyone led her to feel low all the time and that she even felt suicidal. The Barfi! actor explained that what helped her was accepting her illness and learning to embrace her imperfections.
Speaking at a promotional event for her film Dear Maya, Manisha Koirala pointed out that though depression is common, our first instinct is to sweep it under the carpet. Everyone has a tendency to share only the good times on social media, making it seem like everyone but you is living their best life, she explained. She stressed that it’s important to normalise depression so that those experiencing it are less likely to suffer in silence.
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