In more recent years, Samina has reinvented herself with her highly popular show, “Rewind with Samina Peerzada.” She is one of Pakistan’s most loved actors, which makes her latest mistake all the more saddening.
During the latest episode of Rewind with Samina Peerzada, the veteran superstar discussed mental health and depression with her guest, Affan Waheed. However, instead of giving us a more nuanced and informative conversation, Samina unfortunately reminded us why mental health is not taken seriously within our country.
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.”
To equate depression with loneliness does so much disservice to the people who are or have suffered through depression. Furthermore, it propagates the misinformation that already exists. By downplaying the effects of mental health, you invalidate their experience. Samina isn’t completely off when she says that the need for human connection is important. Most therapist believe a strong support system is necessary when it comes to overcoming mental issues. However, a friend or family member is not a replacement for a trained professional.
People who are suffering from mental health issue are less likely to come forward after such downplaying. They will either feel their emotions aren’t being validated and they will be more likely to talk less about their problem. This leads to more isolation about the problem, leading to the very thing Samina is saying causes depression in the first place.
This also brings me to an important part aspect of the perception issue; being there and being present are very different things. Someone can be surrounded by all their friends and family, but still be suffering from depression. Just existing in someone’s life is not enough. And sometimes, you cannot do what a trained professional can.
The truth is that there is no simple answer. Historically, we as a society have been mistrusting of big institutions, especially ones that are associated with the West. As a result, many people in society reject the notion that mental health is no different than physical health. Moreover, the lack of education about mental health allows for misinformation to exist. For example, Aftab Iqbal, the host of Khabarzar, comments equated women’s mental health issues with singlehood. He stated,
“Thirty-one years and not married. Then they complain she makes noises and gets taken over by djinns. This is a pure case of hysteria. You wretched women and your obsession with your careers… this is what happens when you disturb nature.”
This is a prime example of how misinformation is spread and propagated by “reputable” sources and reinforce society’s ideas of mental health, doing more harm in the long run. Just like Samina Peerzada’s comment.