I'll ask it straight.....Is it ever ok to laugh at mental illness?
The first thing that came into my head was No....No No No but the more I think about it the more questions come up and the less confident I am with that answer.... Can we talk about it?
First things first. Let's be honest and admit that we all at some point have made a joke or laughed at something that thinking about it might be cutting it a little too close to the bone right?.... I know I have
Where's the line though? When does it go to far and what topics are off limits?
It's a tough question for sure but for me I'll be the first in line to take the mic out of my own mental health situation. In my expereince I find it a great way of breaking down barriers with people and showing that there's nothing to worry about...... If I'm OK with my dissabilites you don't have to worry 😁
It's not always been like this though and I get it.... For some there is nothing funny about their situation. Some peoples struggles are very real and very difficult so laughing at them does nothing but damage. .....It can be dismissive, making those feel like weirdos...... Exactly the opposite of what they need to hear.
The power of laughter though cannot be ignored. Laughter has been proven time and time again to help with mental wellness. It can fill us with those good chemicals that fight off sadness, anxiety, anger and depression. It can help us connect with others and is a great way of talking about stuff that otherwise might be to hard for some to speak about.
What about those people who's issues are way to serious to laugh off though? What do we do about them?
A great example of this would be Children. They have the ability to say the most vilest of things without ever understanding the power of their words but the effect of what they say can be very real for some..... It's the reason why suicide in teenagers is at an all time high.
No one in their right mind would shake and laugh this off would they. For these kids we need to do the opposite and provide an enviroment for them so they feel comfortable and sucure enough to open up about their problems..... not made to feel like they have to put up and shut up.
Doing this for our youngest not only can save lives but it's also a proven way of challenging the stigma and discrimination in the wider community..... And that has to be the focus when dealing with our children.
So Whats the asnwer? Is there one?
In my opinion the answer is too complex than just a simple yes or no AND right or wrong. Do you have the right to live without fear of redicule?.... A thousand yes's..... Do you have the right to take the piss out of youself and feel comfortable with others joining in on the joke..... For sure YES!
So if there is an answer I think it involves understanding the situation and context in which something is said.
So when something is said ask yourself 2 questions
(1) Who's saying it?
(2) Why are they saying it?
Are these people friends or foe's? Do they say it with love or are they hating on you?
I know for sure that if something was said from my friends and family it would be said with love (even if it was cutting) but if a stranger was to throw insults at me I know I would see and react to that differently.
So I guess it boils down to knowing your audience doesn't it. Understand who you are around and take them into consideration. Think about how your words can effect others and if you're not sure whether to say something..... maybe don't say it.
I don't know if there's a right or wrong answer here.... and in all honestly if there is an answer I think it's a bit of both.
We live in a society where some don't care about the offence they cause but we also have some that take offence to the slightest thing.
I'm a total believer in the power of laughter and the benefits of free speech but with the ability of free speech comes with the added responsibility of dealing with the consequences of that free speech.
If there was any advice I could give that I would want people to understand was not only think about what you say and how it can affect others but also don't let everything offend you..... We live in a tough world sometimes and there's always something that will cause offence..... try not to let it.