Psychiatrists bombarded with phone calls after Dear Zindagi throws light on mental illness

The impact of the Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan movie is such that psychiatrists say many are talking openly about the issue

Pic courtesy: India Education
Pic courtesy: India Education

Cinema is often referred as the reflection of a society’s struggle, progress, strength and weaknesses. In recent times, Bollywood has produced some classics that have succeeded in highlighting the delicate fabric of the dynamic Indian society.

Among many movies that have struck a chord with the audience for their sensitive theme, recently released Dear Zindagi also throws light on one such sensitive issue of our society – mental health.

An urban individual today is bound to experience depression, anxiety, mood swings, loneliness or any other negative tendency either due  to homosexuality, career moves, dating issues or break-ups. These factors are often seen as reasons why most people are seeking mental help, but are afraid to speak up about it, least, consult a psychiatrist.

Breaking this strong taboo against mental illness, the Gauri Shinde directed movie carries a rare yet significant message of speaking up about mental illness as normally as we talk about headache or a bodily ailment.

The impact of the movie is such that psychiatrists say many people are coming out and talking about the issue.

Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrists at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, confessed that since the release of the Alia Bhatt, Shah Rukh Khan-starrer movie, he has received over 90 phone calls and messages.

“People want to talk about mental health. Some could relate themselves to the characters shown in the movie, while others understood the urgency to remove the stigma associated with mental health,” Said Dr Shetty.

He said the movie has succeeded in creating the right buzz around mental health.

“Due to the stigma attached to it, nobody talks about it and people choose to suffer silently. Such movies help in spreading awareness and it is a positive sign that people are approaching psychiatrists for help. I am expecting people to come out of their shell and talk more about the issue,” said Shetty.

A survey done by the World Health Organisation shows India has the highest suicide rate because of depression and anxiety than any other country in the world.

“In Indian society, people usually ignore mental health and gulp their feelings, but never open up about their inner fears,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, psychiatrist at KEM Hospital.

Mundada said mental illness is as common as having cold and cough. “In case of a heart attack, brain stroke, diabetes, people openly talk about the ailment. But, when it comes to mental illness, they shy off. Mental illness is not restricted to depression or anxiety. Even a low phase, overthinking might require psychiatrist or psychologist’s help,” said Mundada.

In the movie, the protagonist played by Alia Bhatt takes help of psychiatrist played by Shahrukh Khan in dealing with the fear of being judged or for a fright of coming across as vulnerable.

Dr Parul Tank, psychiatrist and therapist, said, “At some point in everyone’s lives, each one has felt a need to consult a psychiatrist, but are shy considering the stigma associated with mental health in our society.”

Recently celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Karan Johar, Ileana D’Cruz have openly voiced their battles with depression on public platforms. Psychiatrists say the movie and celebrities talking openly about mental health will help people fighting mental illness come forward and fight it better.

“After Deepika Padukone’s acknowledgment of being depressed we found many women coming forward with their problems and taking psychiatric help. We are hoping that in coming days, after watching ‘Dear Zindagi’, more people will be encouraged to seek medical help instead of suffering silently. Mental illness is predicted to be one of the most widespread epidemics in the next few years,” said Tank.