Mental illness and humor

I was at a Toastmasters Conference a short time ago. It was for a Humorous Speech Contest. There was this contestant who made a speech about his mother was had a mental illness. The audience laughed through out the speech.

I was highly offended. I felt this speech was in bad taste and very inapproapriate for a Toastmasters Conference. I, for one, work very hard BREAKING the stigma of mental illness. This speech worked to build stigma against mental illness.

There is a very famous speaker named “BipolarBoy” who uses humor to teach about mental illness. He is mentally ill himself. It is totally appropriate for the mentally ill to make jokes about mental illness. Not for someone else at someone else’s expense.

If you hear someone telling jokes about the mentally ill, please stop them. Tell them how it spreads stigma that needs to be stopped. Mental illness affects almost every household in America in some way or another. Education is the first step in getting help. It is the first step in saving lives.

I love humor. I think it is a wonderful thing. The Bible says it “doeth good like a medicine”. But we shouldn’t poke fun at people who have problems. Not even to use that humor as a coping mechanism so we can handle the situation better ourselves.

I am sure this speaker used this humor as a coping mechanism in order to handle his mother’s mental illness. That is not always a good way. There are many ways to cope.

NAMI is a great organization for people with mental illness and for their families. There are chapters in each state. Check out for your local chapter. You can find help there in education and support.

Remember, recovery is possible. One day at a time.

Try it!