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Why can’t we just say 'I'm Not Okay', Says Deepika Padukone At WEF

At the World Economic Forum, Dr Murli Doraiswamy and Deepika Padukone were in conversation with Barkha Dutt on the subject of mental health issues.

36 per cent of Indians are or will be depressed at some point in their lives. As many as 1,34,000 kill themselves every year yet, the irony is that we see mental health issues and depression as some sort of self-indulgence.

At the World Economic Forum on Thursday (5 October), Dr Murli Doraiswamy and Deepika Padukone were in conversation with Barkha Dutt on the subject of mental health issues.

Deepika has not kept her battle with depression a secret. It is because of her candour around the subject of her own suffering that there has been a mammoth awareness around mental health issues in India.

Through her foundation, Deepika raises awareness on mental health issues by training doctors, educators and students on mental health issues. It is through sensitization that future generations won’t be afraid when faced with the beast.

Deepika shared her story about the feeling in the pit of her stomach that nagged her for quite some time before she sorts help from her mother. It was a pervasive feeling of exhausted, not wanting to face the world, and breaking down for no reason.

In her case, she was fortunate enough that her mother was sensitive to the subject and immediately reached out to Anna Chandy who in conjunction with Dr Sham Bhatt helped Deepika. It is imperative for the caregiver to be sensitized in how to deal with the patient.

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 as 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 to recognize the symptoms on their own, add to that the shortage of mental health specialists in the country. He also described the two-fold stigma around the subject of talking about mental health being the stigma that we attach ourselves to it and then our friends and family who deem this taboo.

Education is the core way to remove the stigma, which is one of the main things that Deepika's foundation live laugh love does.

The scientific basis of depression cannot be ignored, which Dr Murli shared can be mimicked by other ailments too like thyroid, vitamin deficiency and should also be ruled out when dealing with this predicament before administering care. He suggested that milder forms of depression can be dealt with therapy, yoga exercise and lifestyle changes as there are major side effects of medication too. Lifestyle changes being the biggest thing that Dipika employed. Not being ashamed to take care of one's self and taking out time to do things one enjoys guiltfree.

Dr Murli alluded to a study where students internet usage was tracked and just by keeping tabs on their internet usage they were able to tell if they were depressed or not. It is in times like these where we are in a relationship with our phone that we are most likely to be depressed.

A desire for the narrative around mental health is the reason Deepika shared her story, hoping that even if she made a difference to even just one life it was worth it.

The workplace scenario where mental health is viewed as a disease unlike physical ailments and a huge need to create space for people to be able to share their mental wellness status as candidly as physically is the need of the hour. Changes in policies at the workplace are in huge need of change.

Schools need to be open to mental health issues and not sweep them under the carpet. In hope of a mentally healthier society.

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