Two years after she publicly detailed her battle with depression, actor Deepika Padukone on Monday launched a national public awareness campaign about mental health.
"Two years back, my family had come to see me," she said at the launch of the awareness drive called Dobara Poocho (Ask Again), on World Mental Health Day. "They were about to leave and I was all alone in my bedroom, curled up. My mother walked in and 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 broke into tears."
Padukone's campaign aims to break the stigma around mental health, by urging people to spot the signs of depression among friends and family. The campaign video depicts conversations between pairs at different settings: two young women at a party, two brothers going for a drive, a father and son returning from one, and a grey-haired couple at breakfast.
In each setting, people respond differently to the question: "How are you feeling?" In all of them, the person that asks the question repeats it, until the person they are speaking to, is finally able to open up.
"In the times we are living today, we have become so competitive, which is a good thing, but we have become extremely insensitive too," Padukone said.
Soon after the infomercial went on air, social media users began to share their own struggles with mental health, and urged others to do the same.
"How do I explain that a simplistic video of people being asked if they're okay and them breaking down is what I really need on some days," wrote one user.
Another young woman on Twitter encouraged her followers to share the things they love about themselves.
According to the World Health Organisation, 100 million Indians suffer from some form of mental illness with only 6,500 trained psychiatrists and 22,000-25,000 mental health workers, including psychologists and counsellors.
At 36%, India has recorded the highest rate of major depression in the world. The stress could be attributed to the unprecedented social and economic change the country is undergoing, which often brings depression in its wake.
The largest population-based study from India, published in 2009, to report on prevalence of depression shows that among urban South Indians, the prevalence of depression was nearly 15.1%.
Depression affects over 120 million people worldwide. It can interfere with a person's ability to work, make relationships difficult, and ruin quality of life. In severe cases it leads to suicide, causing 8,50,000 deaths a year.