mid-day turns 41: Deepika and Anisha Padukone's foundation is fighting the good fight against depression

Updated: Jul 13, 2020, 12:54 IST | Uma Ramasubramanian | Mumbai

Deepika and Anisha Padukone's mental health foundation's multi-pronged online initiative helps battle anxiety and depression born from lockdown-induced isolation

Deepika Padukone with sister Anisha. Pic/Instagram
Deepika Padukone with sister Anisha. Pic/Instagram

Deepika and Anisha Padukone
Founder and CEO respectively, TLLLF

Collaborated with Instagram to share daily wellness tips; launched an online course for primary care physicians to identify and manage common mental disorders

Ask again. A simple gesture, really, but one that we — too caught up chasing the next promotion or ticking another item off our bucket list — forget to make.

Understanding that lockdown-induced isolation can trigger anxiety and depression, Deepika Padukone, with The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) that she launched in 2015, reissued the 2016 Dobara Poocho campaign, putting the spotlight squarely on mental health.

Deepika Padukone conducts an online interview with Dr Soumitra Pathare (left) and Dr Shyam Bhat (right)
Deepika Padukone conducts an online interview with Dr Soumitra Pathare (left) and Dr Shyam Bhat (below)

The actor, who went public with her battle with depression in 2015, emphasises the need for an all-round campaign during the various stages of lockdown. "The past several weeks have not only been exceptionally unusual but also difficult. The uncertainty about the future, loss of livelihoods, and the inability to be around loved ones, are just a few of the challenges we have faced. Such situations often lead to or aggravate mental illness," she says.

In the past three months, the foundation has carried out a multi-pronged initiative. At its heart was Deepika's Wellness Guide — a unique exercise she launched with the photo-sharing app Instagram where she regularly suggested activities that aid mental well-being, and tips to cope with stress and anxiety. From espousing self-love to recommending picking up a new skill, the actor shared valuable insights with 96,000-plus followers of the foundation's Instagram handle.

Her sister Anisha Padukone, CEO, TLLLF, says, "Using technology and digital media, we actively raised awareness about stress, anxiety and depression [SAD], and encouraged people to reach out or offer support to those around them. Our messaging is geared towards educating people."

Recognising that India has only 8,000 psychiatrists for its 1.3 billion-strong population, TLLLF also focused on building a strong medical workforce. The foundation launched an online Certificate Course in Common Mental Disorders (CCCMD) in collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI). The first module initiated the training of 143 primary care physicians from 17 states, enabling them to identify and manage common mental disorders.

Recently, Deepika engaged in an in-depth conversation on suicide with Dr Shyam Bhat and Dr Soumitra Pathare, consultant psychiatrist and director of centre for mental health law and policy at ILS. "The video was watched by several thousand viewers in less than a week," says Anisha. She believes that the foundation's sustained efforts have renewed the dialogue on mental illnesses. "We have received several messages from the public on their journey of mental health. We are not directly involved in service delivery, but act as a link between those seeking help and credible resources that are available. These resources include helplines, a national database of qualified mental health professionals, and credible information on SAD."

India has only 8,000 psychiatrists for its 1.3 billion-strong population

Log on to Deepika Padukone Guide/mental health in the time of Covid/Instagram

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