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‘Not everybody understood what I was going through’

After successfully battling depression, Sumedhh Bilgi is now all set to raise awareness about mental health and help others. NT BUZZ chats with him before his talk ‘Mental Health: The Growing Unrest in Goa’ on August 24 at Fatorda


It was about five years ago that Margao boy Sumedhh Bilgi, now a producer and anchor working at a digital platform dealing with sports in Mumbai, found himself in a dark place as he slowly slipped into depression.

It took him more than six months before he realised that something was very wrong and that he needed to seek help. Fortunately, he had a few people who realised how serious the situation was.

“Not everybody understood what I was going through. People thought that I had lost my way. I had people telling me that I was wasting my potential and that I shouldn’t be sad,” he recalls. “After a point I realised it was futile to explain myself. But there were a couple of people who really did understand and stood by me throughout.”

With their support and with some good counselling, Bilgi slowly recovered and went on to pursue journalism studies. But with the recovery also came a call from within to share his story and help others. “I wanted to make sure that other people didn’t suffer in silence, the way I did, as it can be really painful,” he says.

Thus, Bilgi decided to make himself accessible to people who needed to talk about anything at all. “Although I am not a mental health expert, I told people that I was around to listen to anything they have to say, they could and can ping me on social media or call me at anytime of the day,” he says, adding that he was surprised by how many people are battling various issues, be it heartbreak, failure at work, poor relationships with parents and siblings etc. “And the number is only increasing as we are becoming a society that does not express itself. This is because human connect is slowly disappearing,” he says.

Now, Bilgi is taking things to the next level as he gets ready to share his story at Spandan, an open platform held every month in memory of late advocate Mukund Shinkre at The Sincro Hotel, Fatorda. “Being a media person I thought it was ideal to combine my skills together with my hunger to reach out to as many people as possible,” he says. Doing this, he says, gives him a sense of fulfilment.

The talk, to be held on August 24, will see him speaking on ‘Mental Health: The Growing Unrest in Goa’. And according to Bilgi there are quite a few people suffering from depression especially among Goan youth. “There are cases when people are not aware enough about mental health issues and they just think that something is really wrong with them and that there is no way out and this often results in them going down the wrong path,” says Bilgi.

The stigma around mental health also has a part to play in the prevalence of mental health issues. “We are not open about these issues. In fact very often we do not really consider it as a serious enough issue. If someone isn’t doing well, a parent or an elder will take you to the doctor for a physical examination but they never really consider that someone might not be doing well mentally and that it is a health problem,” explains Bilgi.

Bilgi also points out that being aware about mental health issues and acknowledging it are two very different things. “We need to open up to the possibility that it can happen to anyone,” he says, adding that he hopes that prominent Goans too will stand up and do their part in creating more awareness.  “At the end of the day it’s our own Goenkars who are suffering. When we see an injured person on the street we don’t think twice before taking him to a hospital. Why then do we look at mental health differently? It’s time we treat mental health as equally dangerous if not more dangerous than physical health problems,” he says.

(The talk will be held on August 24 at The Sincro Hotel, Fatorda at 6:30 p.m. It is open to all.)

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