Don’t get me wrong, I would never make light of anyone suffering from a mental illness. But to adopt the earnestness of an undertaker every time we talk about the subject, only makes it more inaccessible. In terms of a “normalising the conversation”, it’s a backward step.
The last time I checked, “normal” Australian conversations included as much laughter and warmth as respect and concern. Blokes especially, often show they care for their mates by taking the piss out of them. To not insult each other at any possible chance seems, well, impolite.
So, on the rare occasions I speak openly about my mental health with my mates, I keep the subject light. Not because I don’t take mental illness seriously, but because I do. And not because my mates are uncaring morons, because they’re not.
I just know that the more engaging and entertaining I can make the subject of mental illness, the better. The less the shutters will come down and the ears close over.
You see, I think beating mental illness is one of society’s most serious challenges. But sometimes, serious matters can be beaten by being a little less serious – by making matters more approachable. A little more normal.