When you think of the people best equipped to talk frankly about mental health issues, comedians probably aren’t top of mind. But after the suicide of an engineering student in Mumbai earlier this month, several Indian comedians have started speaking openly on social media about their own battles with depression, according to this BuzzFeed piece. The goal? Fight the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in India.
Biswa Kalyan Rath posted a message on his Facebook page, telling followers “Don’t be ashamed of asking for help. There is nothing wrong with depression. It is a very natural outcome of the kind of society we live in.” He emphasized that everyone experiences ups and downs throughout their lives, saying “Life is a series of failures, punctuated by brief periods of time where things seem to be fine.”
In a video posted on his Facebook page, Tanmay Bhat told people that “the problems you have now seem like the worst thing in the world. But believe you will get over them and you will move on.”
One particularly destructive aspect of the stigma around mental health in India is the idea that parents will be disappointed in children suffering from issues like anxiety and depression. The day after the engineering student’s suicide, Sapan Verma posted a message to Facebook saying “Muster up the courage and talk to your parents. They DON’T hate you. They will NEVER be happy if you do something to yourself. You are NOT disappointing them.”
These messages of hope and support come at a crucial time for India. The most recent data from the World Health Organization shows that India has one of the highest suicide mortality rates in the world, with 20.9 suicides per 100,000 people.
Read more about how comedians are leading the conversation about mental health here.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com