Deepika Padukone became the first ever actress in recent memory to speak out about depression and having gone through the same in her life. Drawing from her own experiences, the actress has now opened her own NGO that will focus on spreading awareness about mental health and provide help to those suffering from depression and other forms of mental illness.
At the star-studded launch of her NGO:today (October 10), Deepika addressed the media speaking about the key her NGO would be dealing with. Excerpts from the interaction.
Ques: Deepika when did the idea to start this NGO germinate?
Deepika: and my team decided to do this about a couple of months ago. Its been a lot of work. Thankfully, professionals from different fields have come and been able to put the foundation together with a lot of dedication. It actually happened much sooner than we thought. We thought it would happen sometime next year but today being World Mental Health Day, we thought it is the best day to launch Live Laugh and Love foundation.
Ques: You have managed to gather support from individuals belonging to different fields. How did that happen?
Deepika: I think everyone in their own capacity can make a difference. Here people who believe they can make a difference have come forward be it from sports, entertainment or business and even doctors too. I think mental health as an issue needs to be addressed very very seriously in our country.
Ques: Why did you choose ‘Live Love and Laugh’ as the name for your foundation and what will be its key objectives?
Deepika: Live, Love and laugh is something that I live by. I know in the current scenario we lead streasful lives but you have keep reminding yourself that it is important to live love and laugh. After all that is what life is all about. Most importantly for people like me who have had an experience with anxiety and depression, I think it is important to know that there is hope. And we as a foundation are here to help you and we need to spread awareness and need to destigmatise mental illness.
Ques: And how do you plan to achieve that through your NGO?
Deepika: We will be launching a website today. As a foundation we have several plans. Our plans are in stages. The initial stage is to destigmatise and spread awareness. All the information will be available on our site for anyone who needs any kind of help in dealing with stress, anxiety or depression. You can go to the website and it is a very simple process out their You will feel like you are talking to a friend and in very simple language in simple steps it will guide you about what you are feeling and how you can seek help.
Ques: Expecting any help from the government?
Deepika: We are ready to help the government and I am sure they are ready to help us too. This is the time to hold hands and create a movement. The focus is on creating awareness about mental health.
Ques: Are the denizens of Bollywood more prone to depression?
Deepika: I don’t think mental health or illness has anything to with any specific industry. It can happen to anybody and we all have to realise that beyond just the baggage we carry of being so and so, we are all at some point stripped down to being human beings at the end of the day. In very simple terms, it can happen to anybody. It doesn’t matter what your economic status is or what your profession is.
Ques: Has depression, going through it and emerging out of it changed you as a person?
Deepika: I think it has. I wouldn’t get into the details of it because it is a larger conversation. A lot of experiences we go through in life makes you learn something from it and it makes you a better person.
Ques: Why is your NGO dealing only with mental health awareness?
Deepika: All this germinated from my own experience which was stress, anxiety and depression. Atleast to begin with we would like to focus on this. There are a lot of other NGOs doing some excellent work in the field of mental health. But since we are just starting out, we would like to focus on this now rather than taking on too much. This is also our area of expertise for the time being.
Ques: In this commercial world of Bollywood, do you think a movie on the subject of mental health can be made and if yes, would you like to act in it?
Deepika: think if dealt with correctly a good movie can be made. In the west, many movies have been made. For example, Still Alice deals with Alzheimers. So if something is dealt with sensitively and correctly then why not.
Ques: Finally, you spoke about destigmatising mental illness. There seems to be stigma attached to love especially when it comes to Bollywood celebrities. What’s your take?
Deepika: (Smiles) Yes. There Is a lot of stigma attached to love as well.