Mental health is real: Two high profile suicides within days of each other, rock food and fashion industry

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In three days, two deaths occurred with people whom the public thought were living their best lives. Now more people are making mental health a priority in public discussion.

This morning, French chef, Eric Ripert, found celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain unresponsive in a hotel room in France. It is an apparent suicide. He was 61.

Kate Spade

Days ago, fashion accessories mogul, Kate Spade was discovered hanging from a doorknob bedroom in her home. She was 55.

Both celebrities struggled with mental health.

For years, Mr. Bourdain spoke publicly about his bouts with depression and wrote about mental health issues in bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential. Today, the New York Times released a statement by Andy Spade, Kate’s husband, that said Ms. Spade sought help for anxiety and depression for five years.

The topic, mental health, is becoming more than a trend, but a serious issue in which people are urging those to seek help, while others work to destigmatize the problem

For Huberta Jackson-Lowman, president of the Association of Black Psychology, treating mental health must be holistic.

“[Jiddu] Krishnamurti says something that is powerful about mental health. He says, ‘that to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society is not a measure of health.” remarks Lowman who is a professor at Florida A&M University and a clinical psychologist who espouses to using an African-centered, holistic approach.

Lowman continues:

One of the things that I would say is that we have to stop dealing with issues around mental health as if this is an individual issue. And what happens is that this Western approach of dealing with mental health, it has a tendency to locate problems internally, so mental health focuses on the individual rather than society.

Taking Mental Health More Seriously

Last month, during mental health month, Ark Republic published an article exploring Black women culinary professionals and mental health. In the story, women detailed extreme amounts of pressure and stress as they navigated an industry that some described as hostile terrain for women, and women of color.

In an event last week, Chef With Issues creator, Kat Kinsman, joined chefs Dana Cohen and Einav Gefen to talk about the concept of FairKitchens. The campaign focused on creating healthier work space environments for those in the culinary profession and throughout the whole food industry. Kinsman revealed that many chefs silently suffer with various forms of mental illness and often end up abusing substances.

Committed to healthier, sustainable working conditions, Kinsman reveals the following:

The restaurant industry has long been in crisis and chefs are suffering. The workforce is hungry for solutions and it’s time for industry partners and chefs to join forces and make a change. We are moving into the next phase of restaurant culture, where sustainable working conditions are finally acknowledged to be as important as sustainable ingredients …

Another flare up in regards to the issue, and in particular, its intersection with celebrity, occurred with the resurgence of several interviews with music producer, emcee and fashion entrepreneur, Kanye West.

He attributed his behavior and comments to his ongoing dealings with bipolar disorder, a confession he made on his recently released album, ye. In an interview with Charlamagne the God (Lenard McKelvey), West spoke of being on medication for his psychological struggles.

The deaths of Mr. Bourdain and Ms. Spade set off a flurry of conversations in the public sphere, but for now, families must bury their dead.

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