Why Is Society Making Jokes about Mental Illnesses?

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Mental Illness is a large problem in American society, and 98.2% of people polled agree. When mental illness is talked about in our society, most times it‘s said in a joke or sarcastic comment. This is a detriment to society because it puts mental illness in a light where it seems less serious than it actually is. Out of the people polled, 55% had most often heard or said a joke relating to Bipolar Disorder. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans every year. Someone who has Bipolar disorder is defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well. typically lasting at least 2 weeks.

Because of these characteristics, Bipolar is often seen as a fake illness. Jokes about Bipolar Disorder usually come when comments are made about someone‘s drastic mood swings. If a peer or co-worker comes in one day happy, and the next day very irritated. many people would say he or she was being Bipolar. Out of those surveyed, 35% said they heard or said a comment about killing themselves at least three times a week. Either there is a large problem with suicidal tendencies in their social circles, or something wrong is going on. Statistics show that 30,000 Americans take their lives each year, but that number could be considerably higher srnce suicide often goes unreported. In America, suicide takes more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, or AIDS. Worldwide there are more deaths due to suicide than to accidents. homicides. and war combined. That poses a huge problem. Suicide is a serious, relevant issue, its not a joke.

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These comments are talking lightly about someone‘s life ending, a brother losmg a sibling. a father losing his child, a friend losing a companion, Most people affected by suicide don‘t recover from that type of tragedy, yet as a society, we still find it funny. Anorexia Nervosa is the most deadly eating disorder In America. Anorexia is medically described as an eating disorder consisting of loss or denial of appetite due to emotional states, such as anxiety, irritation, anger, and fear, resulting in drastic weight loss over time. People who are anorexic will refuse or eat little food. and often exercise intensely to lose weight. Anorexia eventually leads to malnutrition which can dangerously alter the mind and body.

Anorexia has a 5.9% mortality rate. That’s higher than most other mental illnesses. yet almost 22% of those polled said they had heard or made a joke about Anorexia at least once a week. With that in mind, one of the most shocking results is that 91% of people surveyed believed that jokes had some effect the stigma around mental illness. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stigma as a mark of shame or discredit. Nearly 86% of the same people surveyed said that they believed mental illnesses were not simply attention-seeking behaviors. So the question arises. if they believe that they’re a real issue and a serious problem in America. why are they so funny? Every person has one thing in common – life. We all experience different things, different emotions, and different people – but we all have experienced.

Some people might have a harder time than others. but their experiences. emotions. and problems are still valid and shouldn’t be made into a punch line. We all hear these jokes. yet so many of us sit by and laugh along. or just ignore it and hope they don’t say it to someone fighting that illness. If all of us step back and think before we speak, I believe that the stigma around mental illness would make a drastic turn for the better. Mental illnesses are as severe as physical illnesses, and often have the same long—lasting effects. treatments. and even mortality rates. If we get angry about an insensitive comment about cancer or heart disease. why not about suicide? The statistics are there. but will you listen?

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Why Is Society Making Jokes about Mental Illnesses?. (2023, Apr 17). Retrieved from


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