Boycott Halloween Costumes and Attractions That Exploit Mental Illness

Boycott Halloween Costumes and Attractions That Exploit Mental Illness

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Lexie Manion started this petition to NIMH

For Halloween, we invite you to boycott attractions and costumes that exploit those who struggle with mental illness. We also invite businesses to not participate in selling tickets to attractions or selling costumes that exploit those who struggle with mental illness.

I, Lexie Manion, and my friend, Tara DeAngelis, believe Halloween should be a holiday full of exciting and scary costumes and attractions; however, we have noticed that the mentally ill are often targeted or used in ways to sell or scare. We believe that attractions, such as ones showing off or mimicking old psychiatric care facilities, and costumes, such as “mentally ill patient” or “psycho” add to the stigma of mental illness. We firmly believe Halloween can be celebrated without mocking or further stigmatizing those struggling with mental illness.

 “Mental patient”, which is often used when describing such costumes this time of year, is an offensive, outdated term. These days, therapists often refer to the people who are struggling with mental illness whom they are helping as clients.

Many people who were subjected to the horrors of old hospitals, the very ones we visit to get a thrill, attempted or died by suicide, which is where some of the “haunted” notions come from. This stigmatizes suicide in a really offensive way.

“Insane asylums” were hospitals where those struggling with mental illness were tortured, humiliated and harmed. Patients didn’t have rights and were treated inhumanely. Let’s think about how cancer wards and other life threatening physical illnesses are not marketed as haunted attractions, nor are they costumes for Halloween. Mental illness is just as serious as physical illness, so we should show the same compassion and respect for those struggling with mental disorders as those with physical illnesses.

1 in 4 people will struggle with a mental illness in their life. Everyone knows someone. By supporting things that invalidate and harm people struggling with mental illness, we are saying that the history of how they were treated was ok. It’s not ok.

As two young women who have overcome eating disorders and other mental illnesses and share our stories to break stigma and ignite hope, we hope to create a world where those who struggle with mental illness are not only told that they’re not alone, but also, where they’re treated with dignity and respect.

To learn more about the importance of this petition please read Lexie’s “My Mental Illness Is Not Your “Scary” Costume” here.

Thank you,
Tara DeAngelis and Lexie Manion

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