Deepika Padukone

Deepika Padukone (far right) at the launch of “Live Love Laugh,” a national awareness campaign on mental health, in New Delhi Oct. 10, 2016. (Amlan Paliwal/IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — The stigma attached to mental ailments is the main reason why society is struggling to address the problem, and the day we bring awareness to mental health, we will “win this battle,” Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone said Oct. 10.

The 30-year-old actress, who herself has battled depression, was speaking here at the launch of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of psychological disorders on World Mental Health Day.

“It is important to realize that the kind of society we live in on Monday… We have become very competitive and drilled into it, which is a good thing, but, I also think we have become a little less sensitive to people around us... No one should feel that they do not belong to society,” she said.

Sharing her personal struggle with depression, Padukone broke down during the function, and said it is important that there is a supportive ecosystem of family and friends that allows the suffering person to cope with the disorder with hope and dignity.

“When I shared my story first, I did not feel any stigma or shame attached to it. And the reason I came out in the open about it was because I just did not want to feel what I was feeling, I did not let depression get the better of me,” she said.

“So I think the root cause is stigma. And the day we as a society can together get over that stigma and bring awareness of mental health issues, we will win this battle,” she added.

The campaign has been jointly launched by the Indian Psychiatric Society, Indian Medical Association and Padukone’s Bengaluru-based non-profit foundation, The Live Love Laugh Foundation, under which they will develop outreach programs to highlight the urgent mental health challenges that India faces.

Padukone, who recently had also become the brand ambassador of the Indian Psychiatric Society, said the campaign was dedicated to all those people who have survived mental illness.

Asked if social media was creating psychological pressure on celebrities, she said, “It is important to nurture, nourish and protect ourselves... And, I wouldn’t share what I do about it, as it depends on person to person. But, as my father told me, ‘Focus on things in your control, and do not fret over things which are out of your control.’”

India is home to the largest number of mental health patients in the world with at least 50 million Indians estimated to be undergoing depression at any one point in time, according to the Indian Psychiatric Society’s president, Dr. G. Prasad Rao.

A special video and poster campaign, “#DobaraPoocho” (#AskAgain) was also unveiled on the occasion.

“We decided to be a part of the campaign, so we have volunteered and given our support. Deepika could have kept it all to herself, but she shared her struggle and turned it into a movement,” McCann Worldgroup India CEO Prasoon Joshi said. 

Watch Deepika Padukone speak at the launch of her mental health awareness campaign:

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