View profile

Is It OK to Joke About Mental Health?

This is a sensitive subject. The words "mental health" immediately make some people feel a certain wa
Is It OK to Joke About Mental Health?
This is a sensitive subject.
The words “mental health” immediately make some people feel a certain way.
They are words laden with heavy meaning for many.
And so it can be difficult to know what to say or do when words like “mental health” and “mental illness” come up in conversation.
This is especially true when conversation turns to joking around.
Which leads me to my question: Is it ever OK to joke about mental health?
Like everything, it depends.

I Was a Sensitive Kid
When I was a kid, I dealt with quite a bit of anxiety. I still deal with it.
The difference between then and now is that now I have greater awareness. Now I know how to put anxiety in its proper place. I’ve processed most of it, although dealing with anxiety is a journey that never really ends.
But what happened when I was kid, especially in elementary school and middle school, is that I would get teased and bullied for being too sensitive. Kids that are act differently stand out, and when you’re in an environment where everyone is trying to appear confident and in control, this can lead to some individuals targeting others and diminishing their feelings.
When this is the case, it is never OK to joke about a person’s mental health.
Why? Because there’s a power imbalance. There’s an Us Versus Them mentality. No good can come from that.
Thankfully, kids do grow up. And, slowly the world becomes more accepting.
Joking About Mental Health
This brings us back to our question:
Is it ever OK to joke about mental health?
It all depends.
Didn’t you just hate it when adults said that to you when you were growing up? It depends on what? Why does it depend? Do you even really KNOW what you’re talking about? WHY???
This is why it depends.
Because mental health is not a clear-cut issue. There are so many factors that go into it. Mental health is not just one person’s feelings. It’s the social environment. It’s the people you’re spending your time with.
If you’ve talked about mental health with certain people in the past, if you’ve all shared your mental health stories, then it’s probably OK to joke a little about mental health. But you should test the waters first.
And you should certainly not joke by putting others down. This is a common tactic for many comedians, cracking jokes at other people’s expense. It may get a quick laugh, but it leaves the target feeling lesser than before. This same logic can be applied to your own relationships.
You have to ask yourself, “What’s my motive here?”
Brene Brown, the famous author and speaker, has some great thoughts on giving feedback from her Engaged Feedback Checklist that I think are relevant here:
I’m ready to sit next to you rather than across from you.
I’m willing to put the problem in front of us rather than between us (or sliding it toward you).
I’m ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issue.
I want to acknowledge what you do well instead of picking apart your mistakes.
I recognize your strengths and how you can use them to address your challenges.
I can hold you accountable without shaming or blaming you.
I’m willing to own my part.
I can genuinely thank you for your efforts rather than criticize you for your failings.
I can talk about how resolving these challenges will lead to your growth and opportunity.
I can model the vulnerability and openness that I expect to see from you.
While these are all about giving feedback, they carry truths that apply to mental health–and to life, in general.
Know the Context Before You Joke
With Brown’s (great last name, by the way) checklist in mind, think about the context you’re in before you joke.
Joking at other people’s expense is not good.
But, within the proper context, joking about mental health might be alright.
Using humor can be a great coping tool. It can bring people together if used in the right way.
It all depends.
I may not have liked that answer while I was in school, but now that I’m an adult, I realize how accurate it really is.
What do you think? Is it OK to joke about mental health? Send me a message and let me know! Do you want to discuss this further. More and more people are joining the Mental Health Update members community. AND…I just moved the community to a new service that makes it even easier (and more fun) to connect with others, ask questions, and share resources. Go here if you’d like to learn more.

That’s all for today, folks. Have a good one. No, have a GREAT one.
Jordan
Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $10 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Jordan Brown - Mental Health Writer, Poet, and Advocate
Jordan Brown - Mental Health Writer, Poet, and Advocate

The Mental Health Update is an inspirational email newsletter containing authentic mental health articles that make mental health issues like depression, anxiety, OCD meaningful AND accessible.

This is different from typical mental health newsletters.

It's not just an Anxiety Email Newsletter or a Depression Email Newsletter - It's timeless mental health wisdom and inspiration to start your day in a thoughtful, uplifting way.

I was tired of other mental health newsletters blasting out generic lists of links. And I was especially tired of other mental health newsletters not focusing on the everyday reality of mental health issues.

So I decided to come up with something I wanted to read. This mental health newsletter is like a caring friend that just wants you to feel better.

Mental health awareness articles don't need to be all doom and gloom and filled with jargon.

With The Mental Health Update email newsletter, you'll get practical mental health information, tips, and new ways to view the world.

We discuss topics like anxiety, depression, OCD, the mental health to mental illness spectrum, social and communication skills, and much more.

You deserve to get helpful mental health information that you can actually apply to your life.

This is what a few subscribers had to say about this newsletter:

"If you haven't yet subscribed to Jordan's daily newsletter, you absolutely should. It's chock full of good stuff to read and will help make your day better. Not unlike a daily vitamin for your mental health and soul..." - JR

"Daily encouragement from someone who has “been there” when it comes to mental health struggles. Comes in the form of stories and simple, actionable tips for reframing and working with - and through - your issues. One of the few newsletters that has survived my ruthless inbox decluttering sprees. Highly recommended!" - Kelila

"Jordan's mental health update is a welcomed daily email in my inbox. It often provides me with a chance to break from the mundane tasks of working in an office and take a moment for myself to hear his thoughtful and well put together thoughts on many aspects of mental health. As someone who works in the psychology field it's often a nice reminder and way of grounding myself to all the great work that's going on and the journey we all must take in supporting mental health. Thank you Jordan!" - Rob

If you're ready to get high-quality, helpful mental health information from a person who has been there, enter your email address below to sign up immediately!

I take my no-spam policy very seriously with the email addresses I receive. I consider it a mental health obligation to not abuse your trust.

You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue
Missoula, MT