Matthew Perry to Deepika Padukone: What happens when celebrities share their mental health journey

While fans would literally give up anything to get a glimpse into the lives of their favorite celebrities, these public figures often hide the intricacies of their lives from the world. But this may not be true for everyone. It wasn’t for Friends star Matthew Perry. This hasn’t been the case for many other global stars, including Bollywood’s Deepika Padukone, who advocates for mental health.

It’s not new for Deepika Padukone to share her vulnerable side, but the latest episode of Koffee with Karan, where even filmmaker Karan Johar shared his battle with mental health, was an eye-opener. From Deepika talking about her battle with mental illness to Karan Johar talking about seeing his therapist, the conversation was full of hope and help for everyone going through traumatic mental issues.

Deepika Padukone and Karan Johar on tackling mental health issues

In 2015, Deepika shocked the world when she spoke publicly about her depression. She started a mental health foundation called Live Love Laugh. On the show, she explained why she decided to speak publicly about it. “My heart breaks for the people who are struggling and still don’t know what they are going to do. That’s why I came out in 2014, and I shared my experience, I broke it down, and I said this is how I felt for an extended period of time. The intention was that if there was even one person who would hear the interview and say, “Oh my God! This is what I am experiencing, so at least I will be able to help and save a life,” Deepika said on the show.

Deepika Padukone’s husband, actor Ranveer Singh, also spoke about being a caregiver. Image courtesy: Instagram

On the show, Karan Johar revealed that he almost faced a panic attack during a high-profile event recently. Although he looked absolutely calm in the paparazzi photos we saw at the NMACC launch event earlier this year, the story behind the scenes was different. “Varun (Dhawan, actor) was looking at me. I was sweating and I didn’t even realize it. He came up to me and held my hand and said, “Are you okay?” My hands were shaking. He took me to an empty room and I started breathing. At first I thought, “Is this cardiac arrest?” What am I going through? I took off my jacket, which was rather long and elaborate. And I left in about half an hour,” he shared on the show.

Is it easy for celebrities to talk about their fears and addictions?

Not just in Bollywood, but even in Hollywood, many celebrities have taken to global platforms to talk about their mental health. Actor Matthew Perry, whose sudden death shocked people, wrote extensively about his addiction to alcohol and drugs in his memoirs. Besides Perry, many other Hollywood actors have also spoken openly about their struggles with mental illness. Model Kendall Jenner has often spoken about her struggles with anxiety, while singer Adele has also spoken about her depression.

Anu Goel, counseling psychologist, hypnotherapist and past life regression therapist, tells Health Shots, “It’s not easy for celebrities to show this vulnerable side to people. They are expected to have a perfect image and this becomes difficult for them. People feel they could be wrong! But it helps normalize advice and professional help.

These discussions also take a toll on celebrities. According to Dr Imran Noorani, consultant psychologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, “the pressure of fame, public scrutiny and lack of privacy may contribute to their mental health problems. Additionally, their access to resources and treatment options may differ from that of the average person.

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Deepika Padukone on mental health
Deepika Padukone is a mental health advocate. Image courtesy: Instagram via @deepikapadukone

How does it help?

Dr. Noorani says that when celebrities speak out about their mental health issues, it can have a significant impact for several reasons:

  • Reduce stigma: Celebrities have a large platform and can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. By sharing their experiences, they demonstrate that anyone can be affected, regardless of their fame or success.
  • Relability: This can make mental health issues more accessible to the general public. Knowing that even famous people face similar struggles can help people feel less alone in their own mental health journey.
  • Inspiration: Celebrities’ openness about their mental health may inspire others to seek help, whether through therapy, support groups, or treatment. It encourages people to take action.
  • Awareness and education: Celebrity stories can raise awareness about different mental health issues and provide educational resources to those who may not have otherwise been informed.
  • Empathy: Sharing their vulnerability allows celebrities to establish a human connection with their fans, fostering a sense of empathy and understanding.

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