Changing the Mental Health Conversation

Last week I read an article on The Huffington Post titled: Ten Reasons Why It's Fun to Suffer From Depression, written by Peter Cashmore.

The article, which includes subheadings such as 'the lie-ins are amazing' and 'the social life is great', talks about the upsides to depression in a comical way. When I read the article, it didn't occur to me to be offended. Nor did I feel the need to comment on the article and have a dig at Peter. It especially didn't drive me to set up a petition to remove it.

I don't wish to question the motive of anyone offended by the article, but I do think there's often a tendency for people to see something that could be construed as offensive, and react before really thinking it through.

Mental health-related content that could cause harm would:

- Be unnecessarily triggering
- Contain false information
- Be aggressive, disrespectful or malicious

Peter's article, however, was blatantly written in a tongue in-cheek manner. Depression is such a serious disease that for someone suffering with it to be genuinely saying that he thinks it's hilarious is inconceivable. 

Conversation within the mental health community can sometimes be a bit trite. 99.99% of people mean well - but we need to stop having the same conversation over and over again. We need to beat stigma - of course we do, but there are other ways in which to do so other than just repeating those five words.

We need to challenge the ways in which we look at and cope with mental health. We need to be creative, curious and maybe just come down a notch on how easily something outside of the safety zone offends us.

"Some people were always going to condemn it regardless of what I actually said."

Peter's article shows initiative - he put something online that tackles mental health from another angle, and it's sad that he's had some negative responses. Laughing about depression doesn't show ignorance, it shows intelligence and courage.

I sometimes make half-hearted attempts of humour when it comes to my mental health. The jokes I make, though, aren't very funny, nor do I laugh when I tell them. To get to a point where I can really use humour as a coping mechanism would be amazing.

Peter's article is something new. It's something I haven't read a million times before. Attacking him for it is counter-productive and contradictory. Depression is serious, of course - as is any other illness, mental or physical. But taking offence at an attempt to find a silver lining is taking it too seriously. And starting a petition to remove the article is not conducive to a friendly online community that is open to discussion. 

"As a depression sufferer of a decade, I'd say that the decision is mine whether or not I joke about the condition"

If someone laughs at me for getting to the end of the road and running back home - fair enough, they might not understand. But if I wrote an article on a way that helped me cope with anxiety, I would hope that those in similar positions would at least respect that I was trying to help. 


  1. I've said this a million times, but I shall say it again for the purpose of this post.

    When someone attempts to hurt themselves because of an article then that article should take into action one (or more) of the following: Be removed, include a possible trigger warning or include help lines/places for people to get support.

    I have no issues with his sense of humour, I even tweeted Pete when he put it and commended him for it. However, if anyone is in danger because of it then I will fight until everyone is safe.

    Thanks for the great post.


    1. Sorry to hear that. The person in question, however, was already in a fragile state - I think the reaction was out of context in that particular situation.

      Maybe it would be best to go and visit said person and make sure they're okay, rather than tweeting and commenting on the article.

      Thanks for reading x