Kanye West's mental health battle is a wake-up call for empathy


I’m not asking you to feel sorry for Kanye West.

The rapper/designer/provocateur may have earned as many critics over the course of his career as he has fans. But West’s mental health, which he has been open about, should be observed with sensitivity.

His recent interview with Forbes, concerning tweets and a press conference in which he made inaccurate statements about Harriet Tubman have raised alarms about his current well-being.

His wife, Kim Kardashian West, appealed to the better nature of the public last week with a plea for compassion for her husband, who she acknowledged has bipolar disorder.

“Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand,” she wrote in a note posted on her Instagram stories. 

“I’ve never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I am very protective of our children and Kanye’s right to privacy when it comes to his health. But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health.”

In terms of the spectacle of it all, we have been here before with Ye. But he’s not the only celebrity who has confronted such challenges in the fishbowl that is the entertainment industry.

Today's Vocabulary

1. provocateur (n)
person who intentionally encourages people to do something illegal so that they can be caught

2. appealed (v)
to make a
serious or formal request, especially to the public, for money, information, or help

3. plea (n)
urgent and emotional request

4. bipolar disorder (n)
mental illness causing someone to change often from being extremely excited to being very depressed

5.  stigma (n)
strong feeling of disapproval that most people in a society have about something, especially when this is unfair

6. confronted (v)
face, meet, or deal with a difficult situation or person

7. empathy (n)
ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation

  1. What did you think when you read the headline?

  2. Who is Kim Kardashian?

  3. What does Kanye West’s wife plead for?

  4. What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘mental health’?
  1. Why do you think that bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose?

  2. What was the most common mental illness?

  3. Is mental health more important than physical health?

  4. Has your mental health changed over the years?

  5. How does one’s mental health deteriorate?