Deepika Padukone launches new mental health initiative for frontline workers

The NGO is committed to improving health and evidence-based interventions in mental healthcare

Peony Hirwani
Friday 16 July 2021 07:24 BST
Bollywood’s Deepika Padukone discusses battle with depression

Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone has announced a new initiative to help India’s frontline workers overcome mental health issues during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative “Frontline Assist” is a collaboration between the 35-year-old actor’s Live Love Laugh Foundation and an Indian non-profit organisation Sangath.

The NGO is committed to improving health and evidence-based interventions in mental healthcare.

The sale proceeds from the “Deepika Padukone Closet” - an online portal that allows users to buy items recommended by the actor herself - will go to Sangath’s dedicated Covid-19 well-being centre.

“Frontline workers have been the backbone of our country as we weather this pandemic,” the Bajirao Mastani actor wrote on Instagram. “Having had a lived experience with mental illness, I understand the importance of emotional wellbeing, and as a mental health foundation, we are grateful to be able to contribute to the mental health of our country’s frontline workers with ‘Frontline Assist.’”

She added: “We are proud to direct proceeds from ‘The Deepika Padukone Closet’ towards mental health support of our country’s real heroes through our partnership with Sangath.”

The fund will be used to train Sangath’s staff and “enable greater awareness of the initiative to ensure frontline workers access the well-being centre’s services.”

Padukone spoke about her own mental health journey in 2014. She told Harper’s Bazaar that she “just couldn’t stop crying.”

“[My mom] asked, ‘Is it your relationship? Is it your work?’ And I said, “No, no, no, none of those things.’ I just kept saying, ‘No, no, no. I don’t know. I don’t why I feel empty,’” she said. “I wasn’t aware of what mental illness was, and I didn’t realise the importance of mental health.”

“When we have a fever, we know what the symptoms are. Why aren’t we taught to recognise the symptoms of mental illness in the same way? It was a lack of awareness on my part, but also on the part of the people around me. What if it wasn’t for my mother? Who else would have helped me?” she shared.

Since then, Padukone launched the Live Love Laugh Foundation which aims to give hope to people experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression.

The Foundation combines knowledge and domain expertise to create awareness about mental health, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and provide credible mental health resources.

If you are a frontline worker and wish to speak to a counsellor, call Sangath’s free helpline 011-41198666 from anywhere in India. Open all week from 10 AM to 4 PM.

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