Does this story come across as making a joke out of someone with mental health?

Hi, another question from this editor!

We recently posted this story:

NAR has always been a site where workers who encounter challenging situations can find solidarity among themselves and other stories, providing comfort in the fact that they’re not the only ones going through what they’re going through.

This story passed our editorial process because we thought workers who need to process challenging customers on a regular basis due to customers or clients with psychiatric illnesses need to be supported also.

We also know that it is a narrow tightrope of stories that talk about mental illness, and those that make a joke out of it, or those suffering it. Does this story fall into the former or latter category?

Please let me know what you think!

Its the latter, the tone of the story and the language used to tell it is insensitive and not sympathetic.

Yes, ma’am, you go get those meds.

I’m sure there will be a debate in the comments about whether that statement is mockery (it is) but at the very least its utterly insensitive. The story is absolutely not a conversation about mental illness.

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Take the last line out and I think it’ll be ok.

ETA I meant that taking the last line out changes how the story reads. I’m not excusing the OP. I’ve come across plenty of insensitive people working in mental health care.

honestly, I feel that keeping that line at least shows us OP is a bigot.
Remove that line and we read that story and go ‘oh what a crazy customer’

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Since it seems like the majority of the debate about this in the comments is under mine it’s probably obvious where I stand, but yeah, I think it’s the latter. I agree with the comments that the tone may have been a bit different for me without the last line. It just comes off, to me, as mocking. Especially since the caller may not have even been getting psychiatric meds on their trip. It’s kind of like “lol yeah get your pills so you stop being like this” to me.

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I’m willing to give OP the benefit of doubt that they use humour as a coping mechanism in what is probably a very stressful job.

However, i am not comfortable in making jokes about the patient as that would be punching down.

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It does come across as insensitive. I can make self depreciating jokes about my own mental illnesses. But if someone unknown to makes them it seems insulting.

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If the story wasn’t a joke then there would be no pleasure in it. And leaving out mental illness, it’s about a service user complaining when a car showed up which the customer had ordered to use. It isn’t clear if mental illness is a factor in that misunderstanding, but there are similar confusions in NAR stories where the customer is not shown to have a diagnosis. It just spices up this one. And as for, “Yes, go get those meds” - that’s exactly what the customer is intending to do. Whether this is them with or without taking their medication up to now, and whether the medication is even for a mental condition - we don’t know. If it’s the American system, then running out of your medication before you can renew is not unusual, for any patient’s needs. I do agree that it’s not actually necessary to include that that line and underscore certain elements in the story, but it’s not wrong. You would tell someone to take their meds, or to zip up their pants, if they hadn’t and it was embarrassing.

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That’s just it, though. That line especially made people who’ve experienced being treated like a problem or like we’re lesser than those without these issues uncomfortable because it was unnecessary and sounded, to us, like the OP was making fun of the patient. As I said above, who’s to say the person was even getting meds just because it’s a pharmacy? From my experience in the American healthcare system, it’s extremely difficult to get benefits just based on a mental or neurological disorder, so she likely has something else going on. Maybe she needs to get a new leg brace or OTC pain meds.

And saying that the story, stripped of knowing the woman very likely has mental issues, is just a customer story, defeats the point. Because the entire point, right from when OP said many of them also have mental disorders, was that they do and giving an example of someone acting “bizarre” because of it. If we had no reference that the woman probably had a mental illness, then yes, it would be. But I kind of feel like this story is equivalent to a nurse who works with physically disabled people posting about the time someone couldn’t even walk because of pain in their legs with the purpose of showing us “how silly” that person who can’t function normally is.