Monday, 9 February 2015

Stigma and Glamourisation of Mental Illness.

This is something I've been thinking about on and off for a while. The other day my sister was excited about something (the album release of her favourite band) and, to express such excitement, kept saying things like:

"I'm so freaking excited. I'm actually mentally unstable right now."
"They've released a teaser for the new music video and I think I'm actually having a mental breakdown. I can't even handle it!"

"The album has been pre-ordered... I'm so mentally unstable right now!"

It's not the first time I've seen people jokingly suggesting that, because they're merely excited about something, that this equates a lack of mental stability. I've actually heard this kind of language a lot over the past year or so. People often joke that they are 'having a nervous breakdown' or joke about suicide over trivial things. If anything I think it a little offensive and disrespectful to those who do have mental impairments and psychological difficulties. Those who actually live with psychological difficulties aren't likely to go around flaunting it because we are the ones who have to live with such problems. They can vastly impact every corner of our lives. I've seen plenty of people online joke about being mentally unstable because they are excited about things. It doesn't feel appropriate to use language associated with mental illness as a verbal intensifier or to further your point. It seems to be a weird by-product of fangirl culture: the idea of hyping things up and becoming excited is seen as typical fangirl behaviour and yet it prompts me to wonder if such a response is truly healthy. I think, as a society, we need to just reconsider how we talk about mental health as it can add to stigma and trivialise very serious things that people have to deal with on a daily basis...

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