Prakash Jha implores people to take mental health seriously

Prakash Jha implores people to take mental health seriously

In a rare gesture, filmmaker Prakash Jha, known for his hard-hitting grassroots films that challenge society to confront issues faced by the common man, came out in support of mental health warriors. Speaking at the fourth edition of 'The Restore Awards' held at the Taj Lands End in Mumbai, Jha stated, "It's time to treat mental health at par with physical health. When you have an accident or a heart attack, you run to the doctor. But when we have an emotional breakdown, we hush it. Unmute yourself."

'The Restore Awards' is an annual event that began in 2019, to help people come out with their physical and emotional suffering rather than hush it up. Other leaders who attended the awards ceremony as special guests were Harsh Mariwala, Chairman of Marico Industries, who was also the first chief guest in 2019 for these awards; Dr Jawahar Panjwani, a senior orthopaedic surgeon who supports mind-body healing instead of just prescriptions and surgeries; actor Vivek Mushran, who came out in support for the cause and other senior corporate business leaders who have over the last four years consistently demonstrated their solidarity for the awards.

While lighting the inauguration lamp at the awards ceremony, which recognises and celebrates mental health warriors, healers, doctors and sustainability entrepreneurs, Jha explained his presence by saying, "These awards are the catalyst between those struggling with emotional health issues, often without family support and therapists and doctors who are doing impactful work in the space of mental wellbeing. With my presence, I support and applaud these on-the-ground angels impacting their communities."

His films - many reaching blockbuster status - push society and the system to confront issues of bonded labour, caste, class, power, politics, policing, corruption, patriarchy and resistance. Now, it seems like he is challenging society to open up about the trauma of mental health issues.

"It just took one email from us for him to agree to stand for this cause and be our chief guest at the awards. He didn't even pause. Normally, we have been told celebrities charge, but Prakash Ji immediately agreed because the cause is bigger than any of us," said Rachna Chhachhi, cancer nutrition expert and founder of 'The Restore Awards'.

Instituted by four women health experts under the banner of 'Shuddha', 'The Restore Awards' have a globally esteemed independent jury to pick out the winners every year. Presented by 'Ageas Federal Life Insurance' and with sponsor partners like 'Tetley', 'House of Abhinandan Lodha' and 'Metropolis Labs', who have made this non-profit cause possible, the number of global nominations this year crossed 2,000 and the jury had a tough task in deciding only 11 winners.

"It was so difficult for us to see all the deserving nominees and choose winners because each one deserves that their story is told. These awards ensure that people working at the grassroots level who impact mental health are heard via this large-scale initiative," said Dr Mickey Mehta, one of the jury members.

The awards are broadcast live to 300,000 people across various social media platforms, giving mental health nominees and winners a platform for their impactful work.

Some of the winners include Karan Shah, a 24-year-old wheelchair-bound muscular dystrophy patient, who is pushing BMC to make wheelchair-friendly toilets in public places; Dr Deepti Pinto Rosario, a gynaecologist who, after hospital and clinical hours, works hard to spread awareness and dispel myths for women's health - sexual health, puberty, adolescent health, reproductive years, postpartum and menopause and Chaise Freidman, Los Angeles-based warrior who became paralysed neck downwards and within two years and defied the diagnosis of his doctors that he would never be able to walk again.

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