Kid Cudi’s Decision To Seek Treatment For Depression Highlights Mental Health Stigmas
Last week, Grammy award winner Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi publicly announced he would be stepping out of the spotlight to enter rehab for “depression and suicidal urges.”
In a candid note posted on his Facebook page, the singer and actor explained he has struggled with mental illness his entire life and “hasn’t been at peace” throughout his career.
The entire statement is worth reading because it gives a rare and personal look at how depression can affect anyone, regardless of their status or success. However, perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the entire message is how feelings of shame and guilt permeate throughout Cudi’s statement.
“It’s been difficult for me to find the words to what I’m about to share with you because I feel ashamed,” are the opening words of the message, and the musician continues to spend the first paragraph of his message talking about the shame and guilt he has struggled with to just address the issue publicly.
Throughout the rest of the note, Cudi repeatedly references guilt and feeling like he has “let fans down.”
While part of this sentiment can be attributed to the feelings of shame and guilt that characterize depression, it also speaks to the way mental health is a stigmatized and highly charged subject in the American landscape, especially within black communities.
While progress is being made to destigmatize mental illness in many areas, there is still a long way to go. Minority communities in particular face heightened risk for mental health issues including addiction, depression, and PTSD related to numerous factors like poverty and lack of access to healthcare.
Studies have shown black men and women in particular can be prevented from seeking help for mental illness.
The response to Cudi’s admission that he struggles with mental illness, addiction, and suicidal thoughts has been almost universally positive. An outpouring of support for Cudi has come from fans and media, while others have been moved to share their own experiences with mental illness in response.
Social expectations can also play a significant role in preventing members of the black community from seeking help or even discussing their struggles with mental health. Expectations of masculinity in black men often set unfairly high standards and social rules that men “aren’t supposed to” talk about their problems, especially with issues like depression.
With a culture of expected silence, it can be incredibly difficult to find the voice to speak out about your struggles. But, as the response to Kid Cudi’s note has shown, black men across the country struggle with similar issues every day.
In the wake of Cudi’s message, the hashtag #YouGoodMan began trending on Twitter, aimed at destigmatizing mental illness in black communities and offering support.
— Dayna Lynn Nuckolls (@DaynaLNuckolls) October 5, 2016
"How can I help?" or "What do you need?" I found to be one of the best questions to ask someone if they are depressed. #YouGoodMan
— Larnell Baxter (@larnellbaxter) October 5, 2016
While the response to Kid Cudi’s confession shows a growing awareness and understanding of the devastating reality of depression, his story also shows just how much farther we have to travel
Last month, the rapper made headlines with a lengthy Twitter rant insulting fellow artists Kanye West and Drake. Fans and gossip magazines were quick to mock Cudi and the responses on social media were harsh. As expected, Kanye West and Drake both responded with braggadocio-filled insults. In hindsight, however, Cudi’s emotional Tweets read like a cry for help. Perhaps that is why West, who has also referenced depression and taking the antidepressant Lexapro in his music and frequently receives harsh criticism for his unpredictable behavior, offered a softer sentiment a week later.
— David Bullock (@AlaskasVeryOwn) September 21, 2016
During his performance at Houston’s Toyota Center in September, West told fans “I just wanted to take time out to say Kid Cudi is my brother and I hope he’s doing well.”
Cudi’s statement and decision to enter treatment are a rare, honest view behind the curtain that raises important questions about how depression is viewed in society. It shows that anyone can experience depression, even when they seem on top of the world to their friends, family, and fans, but it also speaks to the unique struggles African-American men when dealing with depression, addiction, and other forms of mental illness.