Tuesday, May 26, 2020
May 26, 2020

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Chopra champions mental health

Campaign works to take stigma off of depression


Deepak Chopra says he hasn’t had any stress for 30 years.

“I believe it is a waste of imagination,” Chopra said. “You can either use imagination for stress or you can use imagination to creatively solve problems.”

Chopra, 73, has spent his life advocating for the benefits of alternate medicine. His work has made him a bestselling author of more than 80 books, put him in a social circle that includes the Dalai Lama, and helped him amass more than three million followers on Twitter.

Lady Gaga has called Chopra the most influential person in her life, and Alicia Keyes’ had him officiate her wedding.

The doctor and self-help guru says he has never missed a day of meditation and yoga for the past 45 years. It helps him live a stress-free life, he said, but it’s really because of his “inspiration.”

“I’m always inspired by the idea of personal and social transformation so we can reach a critical mass of humanity in the direction of a more peaceful, just, sustainable and healthier world,” he said. “As long as I keep that in mind then there is no stress. Stress only occurs when you think about yourself.”

So, what is Chopra up to now?

He’s involved in a “grassroot global movement” with actress Gabriella Wright, director Michel Pascal and social entrepreneur Poonacha Machaiah to spread awareness about the importance of mental health and suicide prevention to young adults.

Poor mental health can not only increase the risk of suicide — which is the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 54 — but can also increase the risk for other types of physical health problems such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes or strokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It affects every aspect of your life from your relationships to your job to your community and the world at large,” Chopra said.

Despite his large following, the campaign didn’t start with a tweet. It started with a documentary now called “I Am Never Alone” a few months ago that met its initial GoFundMe goal within a week.

Chopra said Wright asked him to participate in the documentary she was doing with Pascal to discuss suicide and mental health awareness. During their talks, she shared a personal story with him about her 28-year-old sister who committed suicide, he said. Moved by her story, he agreed to be in the film.

The film, which is completed but hasn’t been released yet, is an opportunity to open a line of communication with others to address mental health and its connection to the rising suicidal toll in the country, he said.

The campaign, which is in the works of becoming a nonprofit, looks to share information and resources on what affects mental health, how it can be improved, and the ways to identify and decrease the risk of suicide.

“We think if you have a global community — both online and off line — that is dedicated to service, spiritual practice and emotional spiritual support, then we can actually change this epidemic of depression and suicide that is plaguing the world from celebrities to young kids,” Chopra said.

However, while mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, the CDC says suicide is usually caused by multiple factors, and that many who die by suicide were not diagnosed with a mental health condition.

The majority of people who have depression also do not die by suicide, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. But, it does increase their risk of suicide compared to those without depression.