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

While fans would literally give up anything to get a sneak peek into the lives of their favorite celebrities, these public personalities often keep the intricacies of their lives hidden from the world. But that may not apply to everyone. It wasn’t for Friends star Matthew Perry. That hasn’t been the case for many more global stars, including Bollywood’s own Deepika Padukone, a mental health advocate.

Sharing her vulnerable side is not new for Deepika Padukone, 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 about consulting his therapist, the conversation was full of hope and help for anyone going through traumatic mental issues.

Deepika Padukone and Karan Johar on the fight against mental health issues

In 2015, Deepika shocked the world when she publicly spoke about her depression. She started a mental health foundation called Live Love Laugh. During the show, she talked about why she decided to talk about it publicly. “My heart breaks for people who are struggling and still don’t know what to do. That’s why I came out in 2014 and shared my experience, broke it down and said (that) this was what I felt for an extended period of time. The idea was that if there was even one person who heard the interview and said, “Oh my God! This is what I am going through’, then at least I can help and save one life,” Deepika said on the show.

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

During the show, Karan Johar revealed that he almost had a panic attack recently at a high-profile event. While he looked absolutely in control in the paparazzi photos we saw at the NMACC launch event earlier this year, the story behind the scenes was different. “Varun (Dhawan, actor) stared at me. I was sweating, and I didn’t even realize it. He came up to me, 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 have I experienced?’ I stepped out of my jacket, which was quite long and complicated. And I just left within half an hour,” he shared on the show.

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

Not just in Bollywood, even in Hollywood, many celebrities have taken to global platforms to talk about their mental health. Actor Matthew Perry, whose sudden death has shocked people, wrote extensively about his alcohol and drug addiction in his memoirs. In addition to Perry, many other Hollywood actors have also spoken openly about their struggles with mental illness. Supermodel Kendall Jenner has often spoken about her anxiety issues, while singer Adele also opened up about going through 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 that is difficult for them. People sense how things can go wrong! But it helps normalize counseling and professional help.”

These discussions also take their 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 can 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 come out and talk about their mental health issues, it can have a significant impact for several reasons:

  • Reducing stigma: Celebrities have a wide platform and can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. By sharing their experiences, they show that anyone can be affected, regardless of their fame or success.
  • Recognizability: It can make psychological problems more recognizable to the general public. Knowing that even famous individuals face similar issues can help people feel less alone in their own mental health care.
  • Inspiration: Celebrities’ openness about their mental health can inspire others to seek help, whether that’s through therapy, support groups or treatment. It encourages people to take action.
  • Awareness and education: Celebrity stories can raise awareness about various mental health issues and provide educational resources for those who might otherwise be unaware.
  • Empathy: By sharing their vulnerability, celebrities can connect with their fans on a human level, fostering a sense of empathy and understanding.

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