Popular Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone’s interview where she spoke about her experience with depression at the height of her career changed the landscape of mental health discussions in India. I watched the interview at a time when I was experiencing depression and had difficulty articulating what I was going through. The nature of mental illness can make it difficult to express it in a way that is understood by people in contrast to physical illness. As a public figure in a country where mental illness is stigmatised, Deepika’s bravery in sharing her experience helped to generate an important conversation on depression, the nature of treatment and the importance of support networks.
Within a year she launched the Live Love Laugh Foundation which aims to to reduce stigma, spread awareness and change the way mental health is looked at in India. It’s a platform where anyone seeking help can find comprehensive knowledge, connect with professionals, and find comfort knowing that they’re not alone.
I love watching tennis because I think it is as much a physical sport as it is a mental one. A couple of years ago, I came across an interview where tennis player Mardy Fish shared his experience with anxiety and the impact it had on his career. There is an unforgettable quote in the interview where he says:
‘To show weakness, we’re told, in so many words is to deserve shame. But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.’
This statement captures the major struggle that people with mental illness have with speaking about their experience. The shame associated with it and the fear of being seen as weak can prevent people from speaking about it and getting help.
I fell in love with spoken word poetry became of Shane Koyczan. His poems speak on important issues that affect mental health including bullying, body image and social media. To This Day was an instrumental part of my teenage years at a period where I was not confident and I internalised vicious comments about my body.
Another favourite poem is Trolls which touches on cyber bullying in the age of internet and social media. Watch the video below.
Hayley Mulenda is an international speaker, author and mental health advocate. After nearly committing suicide at the age of 18, Hayley has since been using her personal story to inspire thousands on the importance of mental health. Her first book “The ABCs To Student Success” teaches young people life lessons and strategies on how to maintain mental wellbeing.
Hauwa Ojeifo (She Writes Woman)
Hauwa Ojeifo is an award winning mental health advocate and a mind and mental health coach. She is also the founder of She Writes Woman, an incredible organisation providing support for Nigerian women with mental disorders. Diagnosed with bi-polar and post-traumatic stress disorder in 2015, Hauwa created She Writes Women to support other women going through similar experiences and to give a voice to mental health in Nigeria. The range of services offered by the organisation includes a 24 hour helpline and safe space clinics.