Halloween culture ramps up fears of mental illness

October 31, 2014 12:01 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb is calling on retailers to behave more responsibly and not sell Halloween costumes that demonise mental illness.

Norman warns that "schizo-patient" Halloween costumes are stigmatising people with mental illnesses.

Liberal Democrats believe that mental health should never be ignored or stigmatised.

Speaking today at the National Child and Adult Services conference, Norman will say:

"There is pressure for young people to be a certain way - from every TV, every computer screen and the constantly refreshing content accessible on their phones. The pressure is constant.

"For me it is horrendous that, this Halloween evening, a young person experiencing a mental health crisis could easily come across someone in a 'psycho ward' or 'schizo patient' costume - complete with handcuffs and ripped restraints - as much as they could see someone in a Dracula costume.

"This Halloween culture is dangerous. It conditions all of us to fear mental illness - to see people as 'psychos', or 'schizos' or 'freaks'. It makes us believe that mental illness is something other worldly.

"We have to tackle this damaging stigma which prevents young people from seeking help when they need it, or talking about any problems they might be having.

"Everyone should be able to enjoy Halloween but I urge all retailers to behave more responsibly - don't demonise mental illness."