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Mental Health Is No Joke — Why Kanye West Shouldn’t Be Vilified

Kanye West

Trigger Warning: This article contains references to abortion and bipolar disorder.

A week after Kanye West sensationally claimed he was running for President of the United States of America, he appeared at a rally, wearing a bulletproof vest and made an emotionally charged speech about abortion.

In his speech, he claimed that it was divine intervention that his daughter, North West, seven, was now in this world; and that he too might not have been here if it wasn’t for his mother’s choice to keep him.

Following the impassioned rally, West posted, then deleted, a series of tweets claiming that his wife, Kim Kardashian West and mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, were trying to get him hospitalised.

“Kim tried to bring a doctor to lock me up with a doctor,” he wrote.

The tweet was part of a series of outlandish comments, including the creation of fonts for his presidency paraphernalia, a hand-drawn “The West Wing” logo and claims that the film, Get Out was based on him.

Kanye West
Twitter.

“If I get locked up like Mandela, Ya’ll will know why,” he said, referring to the late former president of South Africa.

Concluding his now-deleted rant — and forty-five minutes after the initial spree — West said: “Ima focus on the music now,” before promoting his upcoming album, DONDA.

West’s behaviour on the platform quickly went viral and has drawn both scrutiny and concern with his fans expressing disbelief over what is happening to the star and questioning his mental health.

In 2019, he appeared in an interview with David Letterman, saying that he has bipolar disorder and that he feels a “higher connection with the universe” when he’s “ramping up”, comparing his brain to a sprained ankle.

“If someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not gonna push on him more.

“With us, once our brain gets to the point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse,” he said.

While at first, many saw the presidency, his impassioned rally and numerous tweets as fodder for public humour, fans and celebrities are now urging others to take West’s mental health seriously.

Singer Halsey took to her Twitter, revealing her decade-long bipolar diagnosis and asking for compassion to be made.

“No jokes right now. I have dedicated my career to offering education and insight about bipolar disorder and I’m so disturbed by what I’m seeing,” she said. “Personal opinions about someone aside, a manic episode isn’t a joke. If you can’t offer understanding or sympathy, offer your silence [sic].”

“A lot of people you know probably have bipolar disorder and you aren’t aware of it. Taking this opportunity to make offensive remarks and villify people with mental illnesses is really not the way to go…this is the exact triggering shit that causes people to keep quiet about it [sic].”

She then went on to say that you “can’t hate someone’s actions or opinions without contributing to stigma that damages an entire community of sometimes vulnerable people all for a couple of laughs. [sic]

“If you wanna think someone is an a–hole, go ahead. Lots of people with mental illnesses are great. Lots of them are a–holes. Because they are people. With nuanced personalities. But making jokes specifically targeted towards bipolar hurts more than the 1 person ur angry with.

“Sincerely, Human Being with a Decade Long Bipolar Diagnosis.”

For many, her words were an important reminder of how we should support and advocate those who are suffering or live with a mental illness and asks for compassion when it comes to West and his family.

If you or someone you know needs information or help regarding mental health issues, contact Mental Health Australia.

You can also contact Beyond Blue for information and referral to relevant services for depression and anxiety-related matters via their website or 1300 22 46 36.

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