The Influence of Kanye West Amidst Mental Health Struggles

By Leah Mize

On August 29, Kanye West released his tenth studio album and the third album he’s released in the past three years. The album’s title “Donda”  and tracks are a tribute to West’s late mother, Donda West, who died in 2007 due to issues with her recuperation from liposuction surgery. 

The album itself has received mixed reviews and it’s too early to determine how successful the album will be in comparison to Kanye’s previous albums. 

We can no longer talk about Kanye or his music without talking about the most intimate elements of his personal life such as his marriage to Kim Kardashian and his erratic behavior both on and off social media. 

Kanye is largely known for his rapping and producing abilities but now he is also known for being the husband to famous social media star Kim Kardasian. Two large spotlights combining into one is a lot of pressure for any person, let alone one that’s already struggling. 

Kanye has recently opened up about his bipolar disorder, and has talked on his struggle with depression as well as his opiate addiction. 

The Mayo Clinic defines bipolar disorder as a “mental health disorder characterized by drastic mood swings. Patients experience extreme highs, known as mania or hypomania, and extreme depression.”

In a 2020 interview with Vogue UK, Kanye talked about how his bipolar manifests itself as paranoia and how he was not taking medication for it. 

The extent of Kanye’s struggles with his mental health became clear in the late fall of 2016 when he was hospitalized for experiencing hallucinations and paranoia, causing 21 of his tour dates to be canceled. 

Since then he’s ran for President multiple times, made numerous controversial statements that he’s then taken back, and openly supported former President Donald Trump despite criticism from his own wife. His battle with bipolar has and will likely always be public, for better or for worse. 

“I think that him being so open about bipolar disorder and how it affects him as a person is very important and influential because he has such an impact on the way that so many young people, especially young men, think,” said Lexus McFarland, a former UT student. 

Part of taking care of a mental health disorder is making accommodations at school and/or work to navigate daily responsibilities comfortably. At UT, Student Disability Services works with students to arrange for such accommodations. 

“We work with students with all types of diagnoses and work to meet individual needs based on the student’s experience and documentation provided.” said Zach McDowell, associate director of academic excellence programs and student disability services.

According to McDowell, typical accommodations for students with mental health concerns involve the ability to leave class as needed if their mental health disorder is impacting them. 

It’s the student’s responsibility to reach out to disability services in order to get what they need as part of managing their mental health in the same way Kanye is responsible for directing his team to make proper arrangements as part of managing  his mental health. 

“Though, I believe that he uses his bipolar disorder as an excuse to say and do a lot of things that he shouldn’t,” said McFarland, “he’s so influential to such a large population and especially young adults and teenagers who follow everything he does.”

Photo credit courtesy of Flickr creative commons.

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