Celebration of Mental Illness Dangerous

Ava Charlesworth, Staff Writer

For far too long, depression, anxiety, and other mental-health issues had considered taboo in American culture.

More recently, high-profile individuals like politicians and celebrities have more frequently made their personal struggles with mental health more public, providing opportunities to examine the stigma associated with these legitimate health concerns.

The willingness to discuss mental illness has been a good thing, but like many cultural phenomena, it has also resulted in some new challenges.

Celebrities like pop singers Selena Gomez and Billie Eilish, as well supermodel Kendall Jenner and rapper Logic have taken to their social media platforms, awards speeches, and the press to discuss their struggles with mental health. From this came the inundation of “relatable” mental health content, confessionals, and social media memes which have transformed the discussion into a kind of fad.

Suddenly, everyone who is anyone seems to have publicized their experience with mental illness. Of course, celebrities who have come forward with personal stories should not have their pain diminished. Rather, the toxic social media culture that has begun to bleed into discussion about mental illness is what should be of concern.

I am deeply concerned by the message that certain celebrities are sending.

The notion that “everyone hates themselves” or that it is “okay to be depressed” is problematic. Depression’s commonality does not make it something to celebrate.

Popular teen pop artist Eilish rose to fame seemingly overnight in 2016, when she was just 14 years old. Her audience ranges from pre-teens to adults, but her message of self-hate is dangerous to her younger, more vulnerable listeners. She has also been known to yell “Cheer if you hate yourself!” at her concerts.

Additionally, now deceased rapper XXXTentacion songs express suicidal thoughts.  He announced his 2018 album 17 is “for the depressed ones.” His song “SAD!” spent weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Misery loves company, as they say, and the comments section of a post by a popular celeb discussing their mental health journey can create a hub for followers to discuss their own self harm, hatred, and depression.

While opening the discussion began as a good thing, it has transformed into a situations where conveying that if your favorite artist or Instagram star hates themselves, it’s probably cool if you do too.

Rather than encouraging their fans and followers to seek help, treatment, and comfort if they too struggle with mental illness, celebrities often simply glorify their problem, as if it is a kind of status symbol.

This trend only exacerbates what is already a cry for help.