Every day there is a lot of talk about mental health on social media. There are constant tweets advising, attempting to educate users on how to deal with anxiety, social anxiety, body dysmorphia, depression, and more. Meanwhile, on the other side of social media, there is always someone trying to discredit any information about mental health issues, intentionally or unintentionally. Recently two celebrities who have taken on social media and the discussion about mental health are former Indian ace cricketer Kapil Dev and American rapper Kanye West. Both are on very different sides of the discussion, and there is a lot we need to learn and unlearn to understand how it impacts us.
Recently Kapil Dev’s video went viral on Twitter, where the former cricket legend opened up about cricketers feeling the pressure after playing too many matches. However, his words got away from him when he went on to call depression and pressure as foreign (Western) words and said they did not fit right with Indian ideology. He said, “I hear a lot of times on TV that there’s a lot of pressure on players to play in the IPL. Then I only say one thing, don’t play. If a player has passion, there will be no pressure. I can’t understand these American terms, like depression. I’m a farmer and we play because we enjoy the game, and there can’t be any pressure while enjoying the game.”
— Swathi Bellam (@BellamSwathi) October 10, 2022
Twitter as expected erupted with memes about Kapil Dev’s statement and many slammed him on being ‘out of touch with reality’. Some even shared how his thinking is outdated. Others attempted to remind the former player of how the times have changed, the pressure the players face isn’t just from the cricket industry as it once was but from the crores of fans in the nation and on social media. While this may not be as easy to understand from the cricketer’s point of view, not all of us have millions of people holding hope based on our actions.
However, at the event, Kapil Dev also talks about how he does not understand the pressure 10th-standard and 12th-standard kids face. He went on to say, that the kids don’t have to pay any fees, have air-conditioned classes, and don’t have to worry about anything outside the classrooms. While the statement may have come with some good intentions, it comes from someone who has not experienced it given that he comes from a different generation.
While kids today do have air-conditioned classrooms, the fees for those have also increased, and consciously or sub-consciously, parents pressure their kids about getting their worth from it. The only way to measure academic worth is still marks and class ranks at the end of the school year – which is still the pressure students go through and it only gets worse with each year, with the uncertainty of the future. It isn’t so different from adults may go through.
I’ve noticed that social media is selective when it comes to who’s mental health matters
— BlackySpeakz (@BlackySpeakz) October 9, 2022
It is called “Mental Health Awareness” because most people are not aware that someone is having mental health problems. A person can look so strong on the outside but is very vulnerable while being alone. Check on your friends and loved ones, it saves lives.
— kevin ng 黄協龍 (@sandhatu) October 10, 2022
Here’s why educating yourself about mental health is important. The only thing common about mental health is that it is different for everyone, what one experiences (goes through) as well as the way one can cope with it (living with it with or without medical help). Twitter is filled with advice about self-care, cutting people out of your life, and going to therapy, however, it is important to remember not everything is possible for one person. One may not have the privilege to go through therapy, or quit school, or a job because contributes to their stress. It is important to seek out help, that one is comfortable with and can afford so as not to add another reason for anxiety. However, with a basic understanding of mental illness, also comes the use of it as an excuse for constant ill deeds.
American rapper Kanye West, since before the pandemic has been making many questionable public statements. The rapper’s family and fans, even the rapper often talked about his mental health issues and keeping out of trouble. Over the years, people have joked about his tweets, however, with his recent anti-sematic tweets, even Twitter has had enough of him. Many called out the rapper and asked his fans to stop using his mental health issues as a reason to let him off the hook.
Please stop using mental illness to explain away Kanye West’s anti-Semitic rants. Millions of people are dealing with mental health issues, and they don’t go on anti-Semitic rants.
— Christopher Bouzy (@cbouzy) October 9, 2022
When it comes to mental health, there is a fine line between what is acceptable and what isn’t and that can only be defined by the people who are experiencing it. When it comes to Kanye West’s tweet, and Kapil Dev’s video, Twitter users who have collectively experienced it deemed it unacceptable. However, educating and learning is a process that goes far beyond Twitter, and by judging people, adding shame for not knowing something isn’t the right way to go about it either.
India as a country is still learning and mainly unlearning about mental health, conditioned upbringing, and trying to build a new and safer world for the young generation. And just because we are defining and learning these words like depression and pressure in English, it does not make them western. The world is still learning and we have a long way to go, whether its in English, Hindi, or any other language.
Cover artwork by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India