New Delhi, November 5, 2017: The fourth and final day of the 21st World Congress of Mental Health, which is taking place at The Ashok Hotel, New Delhi from November 2-5, 2017 was extremely special for it featured an extremely emotional tête-à-tête between the Organizing Chairman Dr Sunil Mittal and renowned Bollywood Actress Ileana D’Cruz about her struggle with Depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Ileana was awarded the Woman of Substance Award for her efforts towards raising awareness about mental health.

The World Congress is being organized by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), the largest global alliance of mental health professionals, national health associations, NGOs, policy experts, and other institutions. The event is taking place in the SAARC region for the very first time.

Chairing the session, Dr Sunil Mittal, Organizing Chairman World Congress of Mental Health, Director CIMBS India, and Co-founder and Past President, Indian Association of Private Psychiatry, said, “Anxiety and depression are very common. About 60 million people live with depression in India. The first challenge is knowing that you are depressed. People suffer in silence, out of guilt, and don’t realize that they are suffering from depression. Ileana is a woman of substance for she did not only decide to fight against it but also encouraged others to seek help, raised awareness, and is trying to dispel myths in her own way. We are extremely fortunate to have her with us today.”

In her experiential narrative, Actress Ileana D’Cruz said, “I was always a very self-conscious person and was picked on for my body type. I used to feel low and sad all the time but didn’t know I was suffering from depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder till I got help. All I wanted to do was to be accepted by everyone. At one point, I even had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end things. However, all of it changed when I accepted myself and what I was going through. I think that is the first step towards fighting depression. Depression is very, very real. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain, and needs to be treated. Don’t sit back and think it’ll get okay but go get help. Like you have a sprain and go get yourself checked, if you have depression seek help. You know Winnie the pooh – he wore a crop top, ate his favorite food all day and loved himself, you can too!”

“I am not saying that I had this miraculous recovery, every day is a process, every day is a step towards healing yourself and getting better. You are a human being and are allowed to be imperfect; you are allowed to be flawed. There is a lot of beauty in your imperfections, in your uniqueness. You may look at us actors and think that oh my god they are so pretty, so perfect but that’s not how it is, it takes two hours to get ready and look like this. Love yourself for who you are and trust me if you are happy from within, you are the most beautiful person and your smile is your best asset” Ileana added.

When asked by Dr Sunil Mittal about why she decided to speak about her struggle, and what encouraged her to do so because it takes a lot of courage to not only accept that we have depression and seek help but also to speak about it and encourage others to seek help, Ileana said, “Despite the fact that I have a loving family, friends, a successful career, I am all over the place emotionally. If I am struggling others are too and as someone people look up to, even if I can help a handful of people cope, it is worth talking about it.”

If you think it is ok to not be happy, no it is not. You need to embrace every single day, make mental health a priority like you would for your physical health. Depression and anxiety disorder are not something to be ashamed of; I didn’t know I suffered from it till my partner told me to seek help. I visited a psychologist just to prove him wrong only to realize that my struggle is real. When suffering from depression you often feel that you are the only one who is struggling, but the truth is that your loved ones suffer too. My mother has been my biggest pillar of strength through this process and I couldn’t be luckier to have her backing me, Ileana concluded.   

This discussion has brought forward the importance of destigmatizing mental health and encouraging people to seek help. Our President Shri Ram Nath Kovind during the inauguration of the World Congress on Thursday said something very important, we need to talk more about depression and not suffer behind closed doors. We know that there is stigma and awareness campaigns are the need of the hour to change this. Let’s join hands to destigmatize mental health concluded Dr Mittal. 

Other key highlights of the fourth and final day of the conference include the launch of the Delhi Declaration on Partnerships for Mental Health by Special Guests Noble Laureate Kailash Satyarthi & Health Minister of Delhi NCT Shri Satyender Jain.

About WFMH: The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is a global body that envisions a world in which mental health is a priority for all people. The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) was founded in 1948 under the aegis of WHO and UNESCO. The Caring Foundation, a Delhi based NGO working in the field of Mental Health since 1995, in association with Delhi Academy of Practicing Psychiatrists (DAPP), Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS), New Delhi and the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), are hosting the WFMH World Congress of Mental Health. Various bodies from across the world including the World Psychiatric Association, Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations, Indian Psychiatric Association, Indian Association of Private Psychiatry, and Delhi Psychiatric Society have lent their support to the event. The World Mental Health Day, observed globally every year on 10th October, was first declared in 1992 by the WFMH itself with the purpose of generating mental health advocacy and awareness.

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