Deepika Padukone fronts mental health campaign

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Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone, who spoke candidly about her struggle with depression in 2014, launched a national public awareness campaign about mental health on Monday. Called 'Dobara Poocho', the campaign aims to break the stigma around the issue and start conversations about mental health.

The awareness drive, developed by Padukone's The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLF), was launched to coincide with World Mental Health Day. A film which will be aired as part of the campaign shows friends and family reaching out to people they think are in mental distress to find out how they are feeling, and not backing off even if they say they're fine.

To drive home the point, Padukone shared an anecdote from her own life. "It was about two years ago, my parents and my sister were packing up to leave Mumbai ... and I was just curled up on the bed. My mother asked if everything was okay, I said yes. She asked again if it was work or something else that was bothering me, I said no. She asked me so many times that I felt myself choking and I burst into tears," Padukone said, getting tearful just narrating the conversation. She added, "In the times we are living today, we have become so competitive, which is a good thing, but we have become extremely insensitive too. I dedicate this campaign to people who have survived depression, people suffering through it and urge society to become more sensitive."

Her foundation, which has conducted awareness drives in 27 schools in states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, is also training general physicians to correctly diagnose depression. This is being done to bridge the yawning gap between the number of patients and mental health specialists. According to the WHO, 100 million Indians suffer from some form of mental illness. However, there are only 6,500 trained psychiatrists and 22,000- 25,000 mental health workers, including psychologists and counsellors.
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