Don’t get me wrong, mental health issues are incredibly serious. They can be hell. Sometimes tragic.
But by talking with the earnestness of undertakers, we only keep the subject inaccessible. Just as we do with an undue focus on political correctness. Neither help normalise such conversations.
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. As for political correctness it’s often nowhere to be seen – but that doesn’t mean men don’t care.
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 less confronting I make mental illness for them, the better. The less the shutters will come down and the ears close over.
Beating mental illness is one of society’s most serious challenges. But sometimes, serious matters can be beaten with a little less seriousness.