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Why Kangana Ranaut’s statement on mental illnesses is a STEP BACK in the fight against mental health stigma

Why Kangana Ranaut’s statement on mental illnesses is a STEP BACK in the fight against mental health stigma

The untimely demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has opened a Pandora box of different and equally controversial debates surrounding mental health conditions. Some of these scintillating statements stemmed from the alleged theory that the MS Dhoni actor died by suicide, while others circled around how depression doesn’t discriminate, no matter which strata of society you belong to. While the investigation in Sushant’s death is currently being conducted by the premier investigating agency of India, it is the absolutely bizarre claims and unscientific statements by popular celebrities like Kangana Ranaut about mental health conditions that need our attention.

Recently, the Manikarnika actress had taken to Twitter to “highlight” how the consumption of drugs can lead to depression (apparently side-eyeing at the whole NCB-drug debate). She said in her tweet, “Repeat after me, depression is a consequence of drug abuse. So-called high society rich star children who claim to be classy and have a good upbringing ask their manager,” MAAL HAI KYA?” Sadly, her slurry of statements has further stigmatised mental illnesses and those suffering from them.

The Twitter handle of VIMHANS (Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro & Allied Sciences), which is one of India’s leading mental health institutions, simply shared back Kangana’s tweet with a powerful two-worded response: DO NOT. Most likely implying NOT to repeat after Kangana’s statement that depression is a consequence of drug abuse.

One of the biggest problems with the Kangana’s misguided statements (as well-intentioned as she may consider them to be) is that it stigmatizes people, who are already suffering from mental health conditions and prevents them from seeking the necessary help. Ranaut has also doled out unhelpful statements like there is no valid medical proof of mental illness and also asked on Twitter whether blood reports and MRI scans can detect mental illnesses or not. When you have a large public following and a voice that most people will listen to, it becomes all the more essential to be responsible with your conversations surrounding mental health conditions, especially given how India accounts for nearly 15 per cent of the global mental, neurological and substance abuse disorder burden. Furthermore, India had the highest suicide rate in Southeast Asia in the year 2016. It is equally important that we don’t pull down others who were brave enough to share their battle with depression and other mental health conditions, because we haven’t ourselves battled these conditions. .

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