Many celebrities and famous sports personalities have opened up about their mental struggle with depression over the years. This has led to a positive attitude towards dealing with mental health. Therapy is no longer as stigmatized as it used to be, and fans of such personalities are becoming more aware of mental health issues. They are also becoming increasingly aware on how does one deal with it.
One of the primary factors that help people deal with mental illness is having someone to talk to. Having a support system, be it a therapist, friends or anybody to talk to, can help one deal with depression and other illnesses. It is important to know that nobody is alone in this journey.
India’s Olympic medalist, Abhinav Bindra also went through depression. In one of his international speeches, he said, “August 11, 2008 was the highest point of my sporting career. I had won gold at the Olympics. It was also the day on which my only goal stood achieved. I was supposed to feel elation and joy, All I felt was emptiness. Today is not about my story but it is important I tell on behalf of the athletes I speak for. There is no doubt that mental health is a global societal challenge and elite athletes are by no means immune and are at least as equal risk of mental illness as the rest of the population.”
Bollywood actress and daughter of Indian badminton legend Deepika Padukone explained her struggle with depression and her efforts to combat it. In an interview with Hindustan Times, she said, “There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings. Finally, I accepted my condition. The counselling helped, but only to an extent. Then, I took medication, and today I am much better.”
“The World Health Organisation has stated that this will be the most widespread epidemic in the next few years. We talk about all kinds of aliments, but this is probably one of the deadliest mental disorders. Nothing, including life, makes sense to people suffering from it. Overcoming it has made me a stronger person and I now value my life much more. Accepting it and speaking about it has liberated me. I have stopped taking medication, and I hope my example will help people reach out for help”, she further elaborated on spreading awareness.
Team India cricket captain Virat Kohli also experienced trouble when it came to mental health. When Australian player Glenn Maxwell announced his decision to take a break from the game to deal with depression, Kohli said “I have gone through a phase in my career. I had felt that it was the end of the world. I just didn’t know what to do and what to say to anyone, how to speak, how to communicate. To be honest, I couldn’t have said that I am not feeling great mentally and I need to get away from the game. Because you never know how that’s taken. You know when you get to the international stage, every player that’s in the squad needs that communication — that ability to speak out.”
Professional golfer and sister of Deepika Padukone, Anisha Padukone went through mental health challenges in her life. At an event, she said, “Growing up in a sporting family, being exceptional was always an underlying emotion. One of the challenges for me was to accept that it is okay to fail. And, for many athletes, it should be highlighted that it is okay not to succeed. I feel failure teaches you a lot more than victory. Accepting failure should be the first step for athletes and these could teach us a lot more. It is important to have some support system of coaches and family members who can help bear down the pressure of these athletes.”
Mental health had always been considered taboo. Many shunned their depression and mental struggles out of the fear of being rejected or ostracized from society. Several sportspersons and celebrities have since opened up about their struggle with this mental illness. A WHO study in 2017 found that over 57 million people in India have been diagnosed with depression. However, many prominent personalities have encouraged talking about mental health struggles. Spreading awareness about mental health has reduced the stigma around therapy and getting better, which means better mental healthcare for all.