In Light of Kanye West, Celebs Are Making an Important Point About Mental Illness
Halsey wrote, "a manic episode is not a joke."
Kanye West's words and behavior around his announcement that he would be running for president has garnered speculation that the rapper, who revealed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2018, is experiencing a manic episode. Now, celebrities like Halsey, Maren Morris, and Emily Andras are urging people not to make light of West’s (or anyone's) mental health.
“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 wrote. "Personal opinions about someone aside, a manic episode isn't a joke. If you can’t offer understanding or sympathy, offer your silence.”
The singer added that weaponizing a person’s mental health struggles to “vilify” them is “not the way to go.”
“you can 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,” Halsey continued.
Halsey tweeted in the wake of West’s controversial presidential rally in South Carolina on July 19th, where he claimed that “‘Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people,’” as Variety reports. Donning a bulletproof vest, West also broke down in tears when he told the crowd that his wife, Kim Kardashian West, considered having an abortion after becoming pregnant with their first child. (West ultimately failed to make the ballot in South Carolina.)
West’s words and actions at this rally in particular raised concerns about the state of his mental health. But apparently, some people on social media used the opportunity of West’s behavior to make jokes about him, or about bipolar disorder in general.
“If you wanna think someone is an asshole, go ahead,” Halsey tweeted. “Lots of people with mental illnesses are great. Lots of them are assholes. Because they are people. With nuanced personalities. But making jokes specifically targeted towards bipolar hurts more than the 1 person ur angry with.”
Country singer Maren Morris and writer Emily Andras chimed into the conversation, as well.
“Mental illness isn’t fucking funny. Stop laughing at it and trending it like it’s a joke,” Morris tweeted.
Andras added, “Mental illness isn't funny.”
And many people are making the point that by mocking one person for their mental health, you mock and stigmatize so many people who have similar mental health concerns who are listening.
Still others, including sexuality educator and activist Ericka Hart, note that conflating Kanye's behavior with his mental illness is "ableist."
"Please stop linking harmful behavior and folks spewing hatred to mental illness, it’s ableist. There are so many people who navigate mental illness and are not anti Black misogynistic assholes," she wrote, noting that it tends to be cis men who are benefited by labeling behavior as mental illness, whereas "a Black femme is just angry."
As with anyone who is struggling with mental illness, we hope Kanye gets any help he may need.