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kim kardashian: an unexpected advocate for mental health


Kim Kardashian is surprising everyone with her recent involvement as Executive Producer in upcoming documentary, #RedFlag. The hour-long special will air during US Mental Health Awareness Month to explore mental health and its relationship to social media. After its premiere, Producer, Dr Drew Pinsky also plans to have an interactive follow-up and similarly themed programming on its broadcaster, HLN, for the rest of May.

The documentary will follow the story of two individuals, Kelly and Andrew, who both use social media as a support mechanism. Kelly, a married woman diagnosed with bipolar, admits in the trailer ‘I post all day, every day’, connecting with others in similar situations as her family struggles to deal with the illness. Andrew, a teenager suffering from depression after the suicide of his brother, similarly uses social media as an outlet as he struggles to act as carer for his mother. According to HLN, the show will also tell ‘the story behind their social media personas’ and ‘how their illnesses affect the people closest to them.’

Kim hopes to increase community awareness of the prevalence of mental illnesses, highlighting the fact that 25 per cent of American adults ‘will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime, and many of them turn to social media as a means of coping with their depression, loneliness and isolation.’

Although Kim’s involvement has come as a shock, the topic of mental health has recently become a relevant topic in her life, as her brother, Rob, has faced a very public battle with depression. Kim’s younger sister, Khloe Kardashian has said ‘Rob has become very introverted and has a kind of social anxiety. He’s definitely not at his happiest place.’ The documentary comes in contrast to portrayals of Kim being frustrated and unsupportive towards Rob. Her method of dealing with his depression is quoted as ‘tough love,’ frequently mocking him for his weight and branding him as ‘king of excuses’ for his lack of motivation. Rob himself has showed his anger towards Kim’s attitude through social media, with a Twitter post writing ‘Kim, the bitch from Gone Girl.’

Kim Kardashian’s behaviour towards her brother throughout his illness, as captured on their reality-show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’, makes her involvement in this documentary questionable. Her public alienation towards Rob risks compromising the documentary’s very purpose. If her desire were to truly advocate and educate on mental illness, she must first demonstrate this within her own family relationship. Instead, Kim’s involvement in the documentary may overshadow the seriousness of the message and may limit interest from those who actually need help.

Regardless, Kim has been acclaimed by Bruce as the ‘most accepting’ in the family throughout his transgender announcement, an experience that he admitted was filled with struggles, including contemplations of suicide. Similarly, she showed sympathy and awareness towards the Armenian Genocide Victims by writing an article for TIME, reflecting on her own heritage.

Kim’s actual input in the technical and creative domain of the documentary will be limited, most likely just acting as a promotional figure. According to Media Match, an executive producer is someone who may be a representative of the studio, or who may take responsibility for finance and marketing. While the target audience may be affected, she will have no major role on the intended key messages.

It is certain that Kim’s fan-base will draw significant attention to the show. Kim has approximately 31 million followers on Twitter, being 15th on the world rank. To put it into perspective, she has eight million more followers than the reported population of Australia. Her involvement on social media platforms, being labelled ‘Queen of Selfie’, will serve as a useful parallel to the premise of the program.

Mental illness continues to be misunderstood, despite many conventional public awareness campaigns. Thereby, Kim’s involvement may have a surprisingly positive influence on raising community awareness by enticing people who would not normally seek out media programs on mental illness. In addition, Kim’s celebrity status highlights the fact that mental illness affects all sections of society regardless of class and social status.

Kim’s use of power for social good is commendable, and will likely bring in a widespread audience, with undoubtable benefits. This is a valuable use of her power, and as long as it helps to spread awareness and resources, it cannot be condemned.

2 thoughts on “kim kardashian: an unexpected advocate for mental health

  1. Impressive article here. What must not be lost are several perspectives. THe original intent of Kardashianism is “self-money-enterprise.” All complaints about having privacy invaded are invalid. “Me” came before the Dash stores. The Dash stores benefited from the twitter account fame. THe modelling job was being wheeled in by twitter followers as well, being an instant vehicle for clothing adverts. MOtivation is impossible to prove, however the Kardashian-West instinct for survival and success is unquestionable and if polls suggest that the “making fun of mentally ill brother” has damaged “self-promo” path, then a “special” that is attractive to “my base” would be a good idea. I’m noticing the focus here is not bringing in a hoard of academics which support the therapy I myself receive that has proven incredibly effective in healing family dynamics, but, focusing on reaching what I’m calling the more “kardashian” fame base. I agree that in this desert of mental health treatment, where tragic suffering, homelessness, incarceration, otherwise known as the life in hell exists in lieu of real help….that this whatever it is KK has done (and don’t forget she has Not done this alone, is better than nothing. Most of us struggle with knowing our limits and not embarrassing ourselves. REst assured the Kardashian and Kardashian-West alliance has a quick back-space tab to undo and edit even the possibly calculated “Rob” abuse that hopefully was never done to “create a family dynamic that I can use then to further mesmorize my viewers so then later I can repent in some great way and they will be held in complete rapture until the next episode.” Remember, the “visual” technique of the KK shows are based on just enough visual time for the audience to want and expect more camera panning; but it satisfies Not. This is deliberate. KK shows are all foreplay. It is a guarantee of success. In Real Mental Health situations, one is exhausted and pained from the foreplay of endless suffering. This is the reason the more highly educated, trained, monitored and honest the therapist is, the better for the patient it is. I know this from getting “the” right therapist after discarding many who were frankly, “out of their talent zone.” I’m sure KK by this point, has exceeded her mom’s expertise and has her own honed instincts about the manipulative aspects of “co-dependence” and can feel and sense when she is potentially disliked enough to have family member or audience walk away. The solution of course is to make nice with something to keep it just repaired enough to move onto the next brain addictive chemical excrete that comes with any addiction; alcohol, co-dependence, Care Giving, running, nicotine etc. ANY public outcry to increase authentic mental health support is Huge. How much suffering there is. So much suffering. Perhaps, just perhaps, like so many in centuries before, if the Kardashian newly entered into fancy society can all move beyond taking up so much time from young girls lives they never even think of going to Junior College and becoming a nurse to have an actual career, they can use their sexual fame for good. Real good. Release the “spell” American deams as success; called “tv addiction.” Help girls have real lives outside tv, instead of dreaming of what shade pink bottle they think Kim should have, while she sleeps in peace knowing her marketing is taken care of by millions of the unpaid masses. Depression is serious. I know from personal experience. Once that physical brain kicks in to that chemical mode, it is the scariest place you can be. Frightening, terrifying. If you could pray it away, you would. Thank you for this article. I never post on line. This is the first calm well thought out piece I’ve seen. Intelligent, sensitive, multi-perspective. I’m not a fan of this family but I’m a fan of reality, life, and the true human potential. While it’s good to praise “good things,” it is frightening to suspect that the “fix” is calculated to fix what is deliberately made wrong so the career continues. I hope this is not the case. If it is not, then getting a more formal education is in order for this young woman. One needs that even to be able to discern hiring the right advisors. Lets hope. Our society is a mess. She’s not old enough to remember when it was different. When authenticity was not just a “stage” or facet of marketing. When the selfie would have been either serious commentary and on exhibition at the MOMA, on society or appropriately embarrassing enough no one was supposed to know. I have no doubt someday, KK will have her own selfie show at the MOMA. It may even be in her mind to do so. Hubris is not always evident until the day the rewards stop coming and one experiences the emptiness getting all dressed up and having no one taking those pictures. There’s a saying; neurosis is building castles in Spain. Psychosis is building castles in Spain and moving into them. Only time will tell. IN the meantime, my hope is for more analytical skills for the public, more formal education in film, media, and the study of celebrity so we can all self-reflect and move on from tv into real life. Death is not a tv show. At that point, I doubt there could be a show that could dress that up. Some things have to be faced with a lifetime of slowly built strengths. Motivation is everything. We cannot know the motivation of another. There is a huge risk in not knowing one’s own limits. When one should not mix celebrity in commentary about international politics in a public way. John Kerry has his job because he is Secretary of State. Whether someone mocking a depressed brother about not getting his act together should be commenting about the country of Turkey accepting a genocide label when that part of the world is so complex in it’s interdependence and dynamics, is questionable. Humility (unfabricated) is a horrible thing to feel. ANd it’s a good thing once in awhile. Conducive to real growth as apposed to ratings. I’m not questioning KK’s sincerity. All delusion is sincere. My own delusion is sincere. But trust me, don’t trust me.

  2. Just saw KK on HLN network in a Q&A about #RedFlag. Convincing use of her media for at least education about mental health issues and peer support, including informing family members when someone is in trouble. Instead of expecting “institutions” to fix families (schools, workplace etc) Facebook etc. seems like the real village we all wish we had. Some door in this mental health desert must appear from nowhere. So much crime and poverty is a result of mental health issues. Physical illness, homelessness. With the US political parties obsessed with popularity and controlling others to get own piece of a 80mil. jet in the air instead of running the country, we need this here. She has turned to a worthy issue; perhaps on supporting the awful statistic of the US incarcerating the most women in the world.

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