Depression affects a large section of India's population. According to the World Health Organization, India is one of the most depressed countries in the world, with close to five crore people suffering from it. In the study, nearly 36% Indians said they have suffered from Major Depressive Episodes (MDE).
While people never shy away from discussing swine flu or dengue in public, depression is still considered a taboo subject.
Don't shy away from speaking to someone about it or just grab a piece of paper and write your emotions. Better yet, just go to a therapist. Aditi Mittal
It is a conversation that we barely ever have. What we are left with is an ailment which is often misdiagnosed, misunderstood and misrepresented.
What makes it worse is that the discussion around mental illness in Indian media is pretty much non-existent. There's a genuine dearth of sensible portrayal of depression in our movies, television shows, and media in general. This has ensured that the stigma and discrimination attached to it has never faded away.
In an attempt to lift the veil on mental and the myths associated with it, TheBetterIndia assembled an esteemed group of panellists featuring comedian Aditi Mittal, actress Feryna Wazheir and film producer Guneet Monga. The trio open up about depression and try to dispel some myths surrounding mental illness alongside Dr. Anjali Chhabria and Dr. Prakriti Saxena Poddar. The panel also addresses a pertinent question: Can the media help normalise the conversation around depression?
The panellists unanimously conceded that the entertainment industry, especially our movies, could play a significant part in getting people to talk about mental illness. Our films inadvertently end up trivialising depression and there needs to be an increased sincerity with which the condition is portrayed on screen.
In a question addressed to Guneet Monga, she mentions how the film industry needs to sensitised to be able to play an active role in lifting the stigma associated with mental disorders.
One of the other key takeaways from the discussion is that depression is not an ailment that needs to be stigmatised and neither is it just "a temporary phase" that can be brushed aside. Depression needs proper attention and it needs to be talked about openly, in order to create an environment where people do not feel reluctant to seek professional help.
The panel emphasised how important it is to open up and not hide one's feelings, no matter how difficult it seems to talk about it.
As Aditi Mittal points out, "Don't shy away from speaking to someone about it or just grab a piece of paper and write your emotions. Better yet, just go to a therapist. Even if you don't think you are depressed, just go. It helps immensely."
Clinical depression is tagged as the "silent killer" by some mental health professionals because sufferers often refrain from telling their family or loved ones about how they feel. This discussion hopefully sheds light on the significance of just seeking assistance, while also urging the film industry to start portraying depression and mental illness without misrepresenting it.
If you think you suffer from a mental illness or know someone else who might be, click here to know which organisations you can turn to for help.