Stars like Virat Kohli and Deepika Padukone will hopefully inspire society to discuss mental health
What do Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Deepika Padukone, Tiger Shroff, Sanjay Dutt and Virat Kohli have in common? Well, apart from being celebrities, they all have battled mental health issues like depression one time or the other. However, all that the world sees is the glitz and glamour of their lives and not the extreme mental pressure such personalities go through as they publicly battle with fame, success and failure. For most of us, the burden of expectations of our families is heavy enough, so it does not take much imagination to understand the weight of the expectations of 137 crore people. Kohli has revealed that he battled depression during a harrowing tour of England in 2014 where he felt like the “loneliest guy in the world” after a string of failures with the bat. “I won’t say I didn’t have people who I could speak to but not having a professional to speak to, who could understand what I was going through, I think is a huge factor. I think I would like to see it change,” Kohli told commentator Mark Nicholas. “Lot of people suffer with that feeling…it carries on for months, for a whole season, people are not able to get out of it,” he rued.
In coming out and talking about the issue, Kohli has done yeoman’s service to fellow cricketers because, save for a few celebrities in the past like Guru Dutt and Parveen Babi, none ever had the courage to discuss the issue publically owing to social stigma till Bollywood A-lister Deepika Padukone talked about her battle with depression while going through failed relationships. Despite being at the top of her career then, she took the bold step of coming out. Since then she has tried to educate the nation on how it is okay to seek help and that there is no shame in admitting that one is facing a mental health issue. The level of lack of understanding and empathy for people facing mental health issues in India can be gauged by the fact that Deepika was mocked for talking about her depression by none other than her Bollywood colleague Kangana Ranaut on Twitter. To her credit, Deepika stood firm in her belief that she needed to use her celebrity status to help millions of Indians fight their mental disorders. Now Kohli has done the same for the cricketing world. And not just cricket, all sports federations should take note and have professionals on board to help their athletes. Hopefully, Padukone and Kohli will inspire the 7.5 per cent Indians suffering from mental health issues to seek help and beat the stigma. It’s time we talk about it.