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This ‘Mental Hospital’ Game Going Viral On Facebook Is Not Funny – Please Stop!

Posted: March 29, 2020

There’s a ‘mental hospital’ game going around on Facebook that is super insensitive to those actually battling mental illness. Yes, we are stressed, but we have no right to stress them further.

Facebook and other social media has seen increased activity and several ‘lockdown challenges’ to make this time bearable.

Most people are working from home. Families and homes are also often oppressive spaces. So these ‘games’ with friends on social media seem like harmless fun and good stress busters on the face of it.

One such game is being touted as ‘Mental Hospital.’ It goes as follows:

I’m in a mental hospital…
My roommate:
Helps you escape:
My Psychiatrist:
Asleep in the corner:
Shouts at everyone:
Next room occupant:
Kicks the nurse:
Laughs uncontrollably:
Sneaks in alcohol:
Talks to self:
Sings out of tune all the time:
Kisses strangers:
Throws dishes at cleaners:
Sulks in the evening:
Wants to change room partner:
Jumps out of the window:
Climbs the tallest trees in the garden:
Tears off clothes :
Copy-paste and delete the names…
After each statement, type @
You’ll see a list of names of your friends! Use the first one.
If first one is already used, take the next one!
Don’t cheat. Have fun!

Cheap humour!

In India mental health has always been either a taboo that is rarely talked about or acknowledged, or a matter of cheap humour as is evident in this game.

The sheer lack of awareness and sensitivity can make people find “jumps out of the window” (allusion to self-harm) as funny. The other descriptions are also so clichéd, that the already huge stigma about mental healthcare as being only for the “loonies” as they say, is further being strengthened.

We understand the stress

In India a 21 days long complete lockdown was announced on 25th March and since then India’s 1.3 billion population is under a lot of distress. There is the obvious fear of the disease and then there is also the uncertainty about future and immediate needs like food and medicines.

The corona virus outbreak has not only been the largest health crisis of our times but it is also probably the toughest psycho-social tragedies of these times too. People are under a lot of stress, anxiety and panic as expected in the face of a pandemic of this scale. Those already battling some kind of mental health condition are particularly vulnerable.

Seeing all these challenges around could trigger a panic attack, memories of confinement could being back PTSD and some might feel extremely alienated and marginalized because of their mental health.

But we need to be sensitive

However there have been some people who have called out this insensitivity.

Like Prateek Sharma, a mental health columnist wrote this yesterday on facebook:

Punch up; never punch down

There has also been considerable backlash because those pointing this out have been trolled as being ‘killjoys’ having ‘no sense of humor’.

However we must understand that a tradition in ethical comedy insists- “always punch up, never punch down.” It simply means that don’t attack or instigate or make fun of people who are already marginalized in any way. Sadly most of the times the butt of jokes is a minority group that can’t easily defend itself, mental health survivors in this case.

Confinement due to mental health is never an easy or pleasant experience and in a lockdown when such jokes or games do the rounds, they can actually trigger a lot of pain and mental health issues for many.

Let’s encourage sensitivity towards mental health and other disabilities in comedy and humor, our jokes can be funny without demeaning or stigmatizing anyone already in a struggle.

Image source: pixabay

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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.

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