Words by Carson Thomas Bush
When we think of our favorite celebrities at a minimum we think of them as someone with one of the best jobs in the world and enough money to live any way they’d like, at the most extreme we see them as heroes, people we look up to. We rarely get a glimpse into their lives behind the scenes, we only see the idealistic image many stars present to us. It can cause the average folk like us to feel as if we have to strive to be perfect like them or else we’re the outsiders. This is why it is so important that more and more celebrities are coming out revealing their struggles with their mental health.
Just half a century ago talking about your mental issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health troubles was seen as taboo, anyone who revealed their troubles was ostracized as a freak. The first boundary pushers came in the mid-1960s, poets Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton created “confessional poetry.” The poetry centered around personal issues such as depression, trauma, and suicidal thinking. This style of poetry fell out of the mainstream quickly but these men and women were the first pioneers in celebrities opening up about mental health. Many celebrities shied away from speaking on mental health until one rapper came along in the mid-2000s. In 2004, Kanye West released his first album “The College Dropout,” it was groundbreaking. West rhymed about unheard of topics in the world of hip-hop, the twenty-one song album touched on heartbreak, personal failures and self-loathing. In a music scene dominated by artists boasting about their glamorous lifestyles, West was seen as a breath of fresh air. Unknown to West at the time his music had touched a teenager from Akron, Ohio named Scott Mescudi who would truly change the way celebrities treated mental health.
Scott Mescudi or Kid Cudi is arguably the most influential person in the current movement of increased mental awareness. Through his music Mescudi opened us to his world, he hid nothing from drug addiction to his near suicide. Bursting into hip-hop world with his single “Day n’ Nite,” Mescudi has paved the way for artists like Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott, Kevin Abstract, XXXTENTACION, and many others. Your favorite musician may very well be heavily influenced by Cudi. Mescudi’s influences stretch well beyond music, however, in an interview with “The Breakfast Club” comedian Pete Davidson stated “He saved my life. I would’ve killed myself if I didn’t have Kid Cudi.” There are dozens if not hundreds of other stories from notable figures where they have said similar things to Davidson.
Seeing someone who we idolize be so open about their struggles does something for us, it makes us feel like we’re not alone. If the people whom we look up to or see in the news every day can feel lonely or like they don’t belong we shouldn’t feel like we’re odd for feeling this was as well. More and more celebrities are starting to come out, just year mental health awareness reached the NBA as All-Star DeMar DeRozan spoke to the “Toronto Star” about his struggles with depression and anxiety. In his own words, DeRozan stated “This is real stuff,” he said. “We’re all human at the end of the day. That’s why I look at every person I encounter the same way. It’s not anything I’m against or ashamed of. Now, at my age, I understand how many people go through it. Even if it’s just somebody can look at it like, ‘He goes through it and he’s still out there being successful and doing this,’ I’m OK with that.” As celebrities become more involved in mental awareness the fear of seeking help or reaching out to a friend will diminish and more people will reach out for the life-saving assistance they need. Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States and with an increased focus on mental health awareness we can take just one more step towards saving millions of lives.