In early October, Scott Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi, checked himself into rehab and later posted a message to his public Facebook account. The note he posted brought up his personal struggles with “depression and suicidal urges.” By being open about his mental health — something that is commonly brushed under the rug and avoided — Cudi is bringing up depression and how it is stigmatized in our society. By sharing his feelings with the world, Cudi encouraged many other people, specifically black men, to feel more comfortable expressing their own struggles with mental health.
In American culture, there is still lots of stigma surrounding mental health, especially for black men. Cudi was praised by for being so open with his personal issues. This has recently been a common occurrence. The media has been constantly validating and supporting men who are vocal about their mental health. Compared to history, with mental illness being something that is considered “weak,” this is a huge step. Although much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done surrounding sexism and gender, as evidenced by the treatment of Kid Cudi, and compared to Kehlani Parrish.
Earlier this year Kehlani Parrish, local bay area singer and songwriter, was rushed to the emergency room after she attempted suicide. Later, she opened up about going through deep personal struggles and dealing with suicidal urges. The responses were mixed. Many of her fans were very supportive of the young artist, but many were not. Some of those who supported Cudi with his mental illness harassed Kehlani about her mental illness. The idea that women are “too emotional” plays a major role in social media’s response to Kehlani.
The stereotypes surrounding women and their mental health has always been the same. Women who deal with the same mental illnesses as men (like Cudi), get much less support from the media. Their issues are viewed as a joke. In Kehlani’s case, people are even saying that she deserves her struggle with mental illness. The message that comes across is that women are inherently less worthy of compassion and sympathy, and their mental and emotional stability is less valued.
Everyone’s experience with mental health is valid. Whether it is continuing the conversation around black men and mental health, or fighting for the validation of women and their mental health concerns, we need to start viewing those with mental illness as real people with real feelings. All people have the right to feel support and validation, no matter what their gender, race, or sexuality.