In recent months the mental health of some of the world’s most prominent rappers has been in the news. In October, Kid Cudi wrote on his Facebook page that he had been experiencing feelings of depression and had checked himself into a mental hospital to seek help. The most recent case we’ve seen is Kanye West. During West’s most recent show on his sold out Saint Pablo tour, he went on an epic rant calling out Jay Z and Beyonce. He then proceeded to cancel the show and the remainder of his tour, and has since been hospitalized.
A music video of Kanye surfaced shortly after that. It featured him sitting on the ground, panting while he was singing, “Do you experience nervousness or shakiness inside, faintness or dizziness, the idea that someone else can control your thoughts…feeling afraid in open spaces or public? Thoughts of ending your life?”
The discussion around mental health is an important one. Rappers often symbolize a group of people who’ve overcome adversity and have an audience of young people looking up to them. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately one in five people will experience issues related to mental health in their lives. This means if you don’t experience a mental health problem yourself, chances are you know someone who does.
It’s important to foster a safe and open environment to discuss mental health in any possible way. Some of the ways you can do this is to be perceptive to changes in behaviour you may notice. Ensure that instead of becoming judgemental towards a person who may be looking or behaving differently, you let them know that you’re there for them no matter what. If you think you know someone who may be experiencing symptoms of poor mental health, but you don’t feel qualified to help, ensure you reach out to them and let them know of resources to seek help.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, there are online chats, phone services such as the Suicide Hotline and of course 911 if you’re feeling in need of immediate attention. Kanye’s battles bring to the forefront the struggles of someone who has always had the façade of not caring what others think, being himself, and remaining strong in the face of adversity. Something a lot of people can relate to.
All sorts of people, even those who don’t particularly listen to rap, can often relate to the stories of a lot of rappers. They’re also inspired by the way rappers are able to remain strong through all they’ve been through. However, it’s crucial for us to see that many of the people we look up to, famous or not, struggle with the same problems we do.
It’s also important to remember that there is always hope for recovery with the right treatment. Your mental and physical health are equally important and worth the attention, so it’s imperative to be vigilant and offer or get help as early on as you’re able to.
By Leah Symonne