Halloween… without the stigma

A light purple image containing the words My illness is not your halloween costume

With Halloween fast approaching, retailers are stocking plenty of scary costume choices for party-goers and trick-or-treaters alike. While many of the costumes are harmless (if a bit gory!), some are more problematic in nature.

The issue of mental health stigma appears in Halloween-themed costumes and events every year, with many people still seeing no issue with dressing as a ‘scary mental patient’ or ‘psycho’. This year, the large retailer B&M have sold a child’s ‘insane psycho’ Halloween outfit and an attraction called the Mad House Maze has been open to the public at Westgate on Sea. Thankfully many organisations, including Mind and Time to Change, have released articles containing advice about how to stamp out stigma this Halloween.

‘The suggestion that people with mental health problems are violent and dangerous is a misleading one,’ writes Time to Change on their blog. ‘Wearing a ‘mental patient’ costume perpetuates harmful stereotypes and can be upsetting for people who do have mental patient costumes.’

Many individuals are speaking out and encouraging people to challenge these costumes when they appear. ‘I often hear the phrase, ‘It’s only a bit of fun’ but each time someone laughs at something like that it makes it just that little bit harder for those affected,’ says David Smith, Chief Executive of Mind in Hull.

‘Small things have a huge impact and knowing you’re not seen as a Halloween monster would make a big difference to us all.’

What do you think? Are mental patient Halloween costumes offensive or harmless? Tweet us @CASSBristol or join us on our Facebook page.