Mental health is becoming a more widely discussed issue as of late, with numerous celebrities coming forward to shed light on an issue that has dwelled too long in the dark. In the last few weeks there have been a number of instances, both foreign and domestic, where predominantly male celebrities have addressed their respective struggles with mental illness. Home-grown talents such as Eoghan McDermott and Al Porter have broken through the taboo and detailed their own personal experiences with an all-too common plight for young Irish men. In an interview with the Independent, Eoghan described seeing a young girl at a theme park that appeared to have been self-harming. He stated that children of this generation are more withdrawn than previous generations due to their dependency on social media and a resulting deficit in actual human interaction.
Comedian Al Porter spoke about coming to terms with taking anti-depressant medication on ‘Cutting Edge’ with Brendan O’Connor. The young star described how shame manifested for
him, from hiding the medication to having the prescription written out to a different name. This episode is quite emotionally arresting and certainly worth a look if you haven’t seen it.
Niall Breslin, or “Bressie” as he is more commonly known, is another Irish star whose battles with depression are well documented. He is an avid campaigner for Mental Health Awareness and has lambasted Irish politicians for their lack of action on the matter. Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits has also tackled the problem on television and on social media through mediums such as Facebook, Youtube and Joe.ie. Through sometimes comical means, though always sincere, Blindboy has given a multitude of articulate and engaging speeches on Ireland’s mental health problems, issuing a guide of the steps we can take to improve our emotional intelligence and subsequently our overall wellbeing.
Across the Atlantic, this discussion has taken a different form. Musician Scott Mescudi aka “Kid Cudi”, posted a lengthy message to his fans on his Facebook page in October explaining that he had checked himself into a rehabilitation centre due to depression and suicidal urges. Although he received much support from his fans, the Hip Hop community at large had a more mixed reception to the news. An infamous Drake diss followed which stirred yet more controversy as Scott Mescudi was obviously vulnerable at the time. Cudi used a social media platform to get his message across and received almost instantaneous replies by the thousands. He received a wealth of positivity from his fan base, though a minority claimed his post was a publicity stunt. The post sparked the Drake diss which could have had severe ramifications for an individual on suicide-watch. He is now reportedly recovering well.
Later, music mogul and pop culture icon Kanye West announced that he was cancelling the remaining 21 booked dates on his tour in order to check into hospital, purportedly for exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Rumours about his mental wellbeing have been circulating ever since and the whispers ostensibly display a lack of empathy from many.
While many fans and friends have shown support, such as singer-songwriter John Legend, recent ridicule from fellow emcees Snoop Dogg and J. Cole show an alarming misunderstanding regarding what they perceive to be mental illness. Social media played a significant role in this ordeal. Snoop Dogg took to Instagram to critique West’s stage rants and J.Cole dropped a music video called ‘False Prophets’ wherein he slated West for hiding his true self from the world. Numerous blogs and social media platforms discussed his stage rants and subsequent hospitalisation with much speculation and little evidence to reinforce their claims.
The polarisation in the response to West’s struggle is indicative of how far we still have to go to fully understand mental health. This is not just an Irish problem, it is a global problem. Social media connects us all.
Show support for the movement put forth by our celebrities and show support for Kanye, Cudi or anyone else who is dealing with mental stresses of any kind. Opening our minds to the threat as opposed to ignoring or dismissing it is the first step to combatting it.
Depression is a lonely, isolated feeling. Show people that they aren’t in it alone.
If you have been affected by the contents of this article, Samaritans can be called 24/7 on: 116 123 (this number is free to call and you don’t have to be suicidal to call Samaritans).