Bollywood is a glamorous world of beautiful actors, fast lifestyles and the latest fashions. However, recent tragic incidents, such as Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide, have spotlighted Bollywood mental health. Unlike Hollywood, where celebrities have embraced discussing mental health issues and seeking professional services, Bollywood has some catching up to do.
An example of an Indian celebrity mental health in crisis is the famous actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Sushant was a Bollywood hero to many, as his success was entirely self-made. This was a rare occurrence in an industry that usually hands fame to the children of other famous Bollywood celebrities.
Sushant grew up in the Indian city of Patna. He initially enrolled in a top Delhi engineering school before dropping out to become a soap opera star in 2008. After two successful television roles, he transitioned to the big screen in 2013 and began starring in major films. He won film awards and had a thriving career. As his film career took off, Sushant broadened his work interests and involvement past Bollywood. He was a main promoter of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), co-founded an AI and technology company, co-founded a charity and was active in donating his time and money to various philanthropic endeavors.
The world discovered news of Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide in late June. The 34-year-old actor was found dead in his home in Bandra, Mumbai, on June 14, 2020. The autopsy report states death by asphyxiation, and the police are treating the case as death by suicide.
Bollywood Mental Health
Sushant’s death has shed light on the many issues surrounding Indian celebrity mental health and mental health for the Indian population as a whole.
Seeking professional help for mental health issues still holds a stigma in India. And this reproach is just as sharp for Bollywood celebrities seeking help. Without access to professional help, there can sometimes be dire consequences. Famous stars like Jiah Khan, Kushal Punjabi and Shikha Joshi have all completed suicide in the past decade.
Just like Hollywood, Bollywood celebrities are put under immense pressure. It’s clear that Sushant Singh Rajput’s mental health was a cause for concern. Actress Anushka Sharma co-starred with Rajput in the Hindi film “PK.” She went on social media and expressed her sadness over Sushant’s death. Sharma went a lot further than just stating the typical “rest in peace” and “you will be missed” messages. She mentioned that she could tell Sushant was struggling with his mental health when working with him but that she didn’t know how to help him.
India’s Mental Health Stigma
Seeing just how Sushant’s death was treated outlines some of the clear stigmas that remain a problem in India today.
Popular news channels reported on the news of Sushant’s death in an incredibly insensitive manner, speculating on details and harassing his family members. These tactics highlight the lack of empathy with which Bollywood mental health is discussed on popular forums in India. One channel was eventually served a legal notice for its “insensitive coverage.” The news channel released a joke saying “How did he hit wicket?” — essentially making a cricket joke at the expense of Sushant’s death.
Social media users weren’t always in the right either. The police have had to notify the public that legal action can be taken against those who share pictures of the actor’s body online. Users didn’t care how sharing the photo could impact the health of other social media users or Sushant’s family members.
It’s evident that discussions around mental health in India have some room for improvement. A study by the World Economic Forum found that 47% of 3,556 respondents report feeling more judgmental about people with mental health conditions. Additionally, 68% believed that people with mental health issues shouldn’t be given any responsibilities, and 44% believed that everyone with a mental health condition is violent.
These problems stem not only from public perception and news commentary but also from Bollywood itself. Bollywood has released several problematic films that romanticize depression and suicide and ridicule medication for mental illness. Clearly, there is significant room for improvement in conversations surrounding mental health in India.
Just like every country in the world, India has individuals who struggle with mental health conditions. However, the ability to discuss these issues with friends and family or find professional resources is a unique challenge.
The stigma surrounding mental health in India is incredibly harmful. One in five Indians will struggle with depression in their lifetime. Unfortunately, even if a person can get past the social stigma of seeking help, they might have trouble finding it. India, in general, is strapped for mental health resources.
An ideal ratio is one mental health professional for every 8,000-10,000 people. In India, the number is sitting at one psychiatrist for every 200,000 people. This is clearly taking a toll on the country, as India’s suicides account for 17% of suicides worldwide. The country has to invest in mental health resources so that when people look for treatment, it’s readily available.
Bollywood Setting An Example for Others
Bollywood celebrities can significantly help by shining a spotlight on their experiences. For example, famous actress Deepika Padukone recently opened up about her depression. When stars take these steps, they normalize the experience for others. Their fans and audiences will begin to understand there’s no shame in seeking treatment.
Mental health conditions are illnesses in which your brain works against you. Struggling with a mental health condition doesn’t make a person weak or damaged. In fact, seeking help is a sign of strength. It takes a strong person to choose to have a professional assist them. You would never dream of fixing your car or even your plumbing by yourself, so what makes you think you should tackle something as complicated as your mental health on your own? Professionals have the training and expertise to guide you along a path to self-recovery and treatment. A mental health professional can give you the tools you need to address your mental health concerns.
FHE Health is a top addiction and mental health disorder treatment center. We provide quality personalized treatment that promotes healing and optimized learning. If you or someone you know struggles with any mental health concerns, make sure to seek help as soon as possible. Contact FHE Health for a consultation by calling (844) 299-0618 or filling out this online form.