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.