Mental health stigma is no joke and these Halloween costumes aren’t just offensive, they’re harmful


This time last year, retail giants Asda and Tesco got caught in a media storm. Both were exposed selling stigmatising Halloween costumes straight out of a clichéd 1960s horror film. Asda’s ‘mental patient’ and Tesco’s ‘psycho ward’ outfits reinforced the old, but no the less potent, stereotype that people with mental health problems are violent and dangerous. Although it happened several months before I created #BlackDogRunner, I distinctly remember the outcry, which reached a scale rarely witnessed in the context of mental health.

Asda and Tesco responded appropriately, by apologising and removing the items from sale. Asda even donated £25,000 to Mind, a refreshing change from the hollow apologies that we’re usually expected to accept. But it was the positive reaction of those with lived experiences of mental health problems that was most memorable. Not content to simply complain, thousands shared photos of themselves to tell the world: don’t believe the myths, people with poor mental health aren’t scary.

Becki Becki Luscombe…

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