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Kanye West: Evidence of mental health stigma

Greg Stanley on what the rapper’s hospitalisation says about our attitudes towards mental health.

Through the showstopping rants that have become synonymous with his talent, Kanye West has been thrust into the attention of the world’s media once again.

Yet, behind the shadows cast by the spotlight of social media backlash is a subject even more noteworthy than Mr West – the stigma attached to mental health.

The rapper was taken to hospital last week suffering from mental exhaustion. It was news that gave context to not just his recent outburst that saw his Sacramento show end prematurely, but also to the many incidents involving West in recent years.

But rather than question Kanye West’s mental wellbeing, his status as a global celebrity seems to open him up to ridicule – being labelled ‘crazy’ by many and even a ‘lunatic’ by some. Whilst I sympathise with the thousands feeling let down following the cancelling of his sell-out tour – a tour that had 21 dates still to run – I also sympathise with any celebrity whose fame is detrimental to their health.

In a world where we put celebrities on pedestals, seemingly too high out of reach from their fans and critics, do we forget that they are human?

Celebrity or not, West’s life has seen him narrowly escape death in a car crash, lose his beloved mother, and recently experience the trauma of his wife being held at gunpoint.

An outspoken personality, himself, Piers Morgan’s Daily Mail column on West contained no sympathy. Morgan felt the need to put West’s diagnosis in inverted commas as if to suggest his condition wasn’t even real.

This isn’t a fan defending West’s actions, this is a reminder to separate celebrity culture from mental health issues.

As Kanye, himself rapped on his debut album , long before he was the behemoth of today; “it seems we’re living the American dream, the people highest up have the lowest self-esteem.”

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