The stigma around mental health grows due to such assumptions and irresponsible statements.
The stigma around mental health grows due to such assumptions and irresponsible statements.

The latest episode of Rewind with Samina Peerzada had actor Affan Waheed opening up about his divorce and fighting through depression, a conversation important in our time.

However, the second half of the episode showed the host making some problematic statements about seeking mental health counseling.

While discussing how difficult it is to leave behind characters and how psychologically draining acting is as a profession, she said, "If you're conscious you might not have to go to a shrink but people abroad go because they don't have friends who they can talk to or parents they're close to. Everyone is living alone."

While community is important, saying that family and friends can replace the need for professional counselling is a dangerous message and shows a lack of understanding on the host's part about a crucial matter. Generalisations such as these, especially in a country like ours where seeking help for mental health issues is already considered taboo and psychiatric services and resources are extremely limited, are extremely problematic.

While many mental health professionals encourage people to open up to friends and family about their struggles, it is often not a substitute for professional help. Good mental health professionals ─ while they empathise with you and care for your overall well-being ─ stay objective so they can address your concerns without any emotion clouding their judgements.

In contrast, Affan Waheed’s take on mental illness - during the first half of the episode on Friday - was very different (and on-point!). While opening up about his depression and divorce, Waheed shared, "We need to talk about depression. It is real. It can be a chemical imbalance and you need to go to a doctor. There is no need to worry about what people will say or whether they'll call me crazy. It's important to go to a doctor."

These are the kinds of conversations that need to be happening in the mainstream and it's good to see celebrities trying to break stereotypes around mental illness.

Previously Mahira Khan, Meesha Shafi and Mohsin Abbas Haider have also opened up about going through trauma, grappling with mental health challenges and the importance of having a conversation about it.

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