Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | January 16, 2015 | 09:47 am IST  Actor Deepika Padukone took many people by surprise when she recently opened up about her struggle with depression. The Bollywood diva received support from many quarters within the film industry and outside for her courage and endeavour to spread awareness about mental health.  The News Minute (TNM) spoke to veteran actor Anupam Kher, who too had recently spoken to the media about his personal fight with depression diagnosed in last year. This was soon after Hollywood actor and comedian Robin Williams had committed suicide in August 2014. He was reportedly struggling with depression, anxiety and was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease at the time he died. “That is when I thought, I too should speak up about my issues", says Kher. “Besides, I never wanted to do anything in hiding. If people who occupy a responsible position in society open up about the mental issues they face, we can help several others who have doubts in their mind regarding mental illnesses." Kher says what Padukone had done is a very brave and wise thing to do. "People look up to her. When they know that she is consulting a therapist, they will understand there is no problem in getting help, and it is an okay thing to do," he says. "Unfortunately, too often people think that successful people are not supposed to have any issues or problems. This is not true at all. Just because they have a car, live in air-conditioned spaces and are well off does not mean they do not endure trauma or undergo bouts of depression," Kher, who played the role of Dr. Cliff Patel, a therapist, in the Oscar award winning movie Silver Linings Playbook, asserts. For him, it all started with sleeplessness. Unable to get sound sleep for a month, he went to get his eyes checked and that was when it was suggested to him that he consult a psychiatrist. Kher followed that advice and the diagnosis was that he was suffering from hidden depression. Read: Mental health in India: Deepika Padukone, Anupam Kher kick-start a necessary national dialogue "A lot of people, who could be suffering from any kind of mental ailment, are often unaware of it", says the Padma Shree award recipient. "We all have mind issues, but in India this is a taboo subject because a lot of stigma is attached to any form of mental illness, be it anxiety, depression or something more severe like schizophrenia or split personality disorder."  In India, he thinks, moving towards a nuclear family set up has played a role in giving rise to such problems. "Earlier, we used to live in joint families and we used to talk to our family members about the problems that bothered us. We also used to speak to our milk man and newspaper delivery guy and discussed matters that affected us. Now, we hardly interact", he says. "Besides, we are often made to believe that we live in a dangerous world," he adds. In the West, things are a little different. According to Kher, mental illness is not considered a taboo in many western countries because of increased awareness and he hopes things will change for the better in India.  He sees a clear role for the government to step in more actively, especially in spreading awareness and tackling the problem at the root. He sees a therapist once a month and over time has suggested to several friends to seek professional help if necessary.  The multiple award-winning actor is of the view that we now live in a world where people pretend to be brave. 'Unfortunately, the human mind is very fragile. We do get hurt at times and if we don’t tend to it, it may lead to bigger problems." Kher has one message for everyone out there. "When faced with a problem, any problem, talk about it to loved ones, family and friends. Share it with your parents because they are the people who will never judge you. But do not bottle it up in your heart." Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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