“If Kanye West is still “a spaz” after 21 Grammys, what does that make you and me?”
How avoiding mental illness adds to it’s prominence and the ways we deal with people struggling with their mental health
“Kanye West been eating his spaghetti with a spoon for years y’all just realizing he’s crazy”
— Karl Alone (@MikeHeadIy) November 22, 2016
I can hear the eyes roll from behind your screens. “Kanye? Really?” Oh yeah. I did. Because the way society treats those of us with mental illness can be seen in his situation. Kanye was hospitalized for issues regarding his mental health. Some people took this as an opportunity to criticize the “Louis Vuitton Don” and say “he should be locked up for good!”. But how can you say that about someone with dealing with issues as relevant as mental illness? I’m mentally ill. Do you, a stranger, want me to be put in an asylum? My biggest issue with the way mental illness is faced in society today is how, instead of supporting those with problems, we push them away and pretend they aren’t there. This never works. Believe me, I know. From this 18-year old college student to whoever is reading this, I want you to know that avoiding mental illness never makes it go away.
When I say I’m mentally ill, what does that mean to you? You could assume I’m schizophrenic; maybe I have dreams about cannibalism? Nah, I just have ADHD and anxiety. I don’t hear voices or see demons but my issues, and how they affect my mental health, deserve just as much thought as gun control debates or wall street corruption. I’m not saying “my issues” as in me seeking attention. I’m speaking for the whole “community” of mentally ill people across the globe. Because I’m one of those people who don’t get the help/attention they deserve. Telling people with mental health problems to “get a therapist” or “talk to someone else” is making their issues worse. When you feel like your family/friends/peers etc. don’t want to “trouble themselves” with you, your issues never get better.
(I’m not trying to say non-mentally ill people don’t care about/don’t try hard enough to support those around them. I’m inserting this to avoid having my message diluted by having anyone who reads this get mad at me for my frustration or my enjoyment of Kanye’s music)
Before we continue, I am a giant Kanye West fan (he is one of the most important influences in my life). Anyways, “why’re you talking about Kanye again?” Because when someone is having issues with their mental health (there is a miniscule chance that you don’t at least KNOW someone dealing with mental wellness issues) your acknowledgement of the relevancy of their issue(s) is so important. But how do you do this? Today, Tweeting or posting on Facebook are usually the two ways that socially conscious people show their support of those dealing with these issues. But is that enough? You might be “woke” if you Tweet about how Kanye’s treatment by the media was unfair, but do you honestly care about improving the lives of people struggling with their mental health? You can put a filter on your Facebook profile picture to say that you’re “feeling for” those affected by terrorism abroad, but you might as well be saying “Wow I’m happy to acknowledge this doesn’t affect me, so I feel for those who lost their lives”. Now, as a platform for those with a large following to spread positive ideology, Twitter (and Facebook) can be used quite effectively. But I’m not talking to Leonardo DiCaprio or Shaquille O’Neal. I’m writing this to people with 100 Twitter followers who don’t understand how to give their mentally unwell peers the support they need.
Don’t make issues as relevant as mental illness something that you’re “far away from”. Because nobody is far away from it. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), one in four people will experience some sort of mental disorder in their lifetime. So basically, nobody can hide from this issue. So talk to your friends and family. Ask if they’re ok. Because if people struggling with mental wellness weren’t given the time of day, who knows if we would have ever gotten eight amazing albums by Kanye West.