Of course Halloween is that one night (or in college, it is either those one OR two weekends) you get to dress up as whatever you want and “not be judged.” I have been to three different colleges for Halloween and the most interesting thing that I have heard was some boy (I’ll refer to him as a boy even though he was 18 and probably considers himself a “man”) put the word “slutty“ in front of every woman’s costume that he saw. “Slutty police officer.” “Slutty cat.” “Slutty leprechaun.” “Slutty cheerleader.” Slutty this, slutty that. Yes, it is Halloween. Yes, the point is to dress up, or in this case, dress down. Yes, we all know a lot of women choose to show more skin than they normally would on any other night. And yes, we all know people try and choose the most ridiculous outfits because on Halloween nothing is “offensive.” Well, that is where people are ENTIRELY WRONG. This, is about two costumes, two different businesses were selling, yet the costumes were just so insensitive and the way the made the costumes does not make any sense.
As a college individual, I enjoy dressing up on Halloween and going out to all of those “wild” Halloween parties, but I have honestly seem some disturbing costumes which just not okay with me. Also, as a college individual, I am fully supportive of raising awareness for mental health. I am actually too hyped up about it because it is usually that ONE subject people think they know everything about. I know, I don’t know everything about it; but when people come tell me they are so “DEPRESSED” times infinity because their favorite television show does not come on for another week, I just get so upset and annoyed. People use the words “depression, anxiety, I want to kill myself, bi-polar, ADD, OCD, ADHD” so freely and they just throw them around like it is nothing. To me, that is not okay.
Do they ever think of the people who are truly suffering from depression? Do they ever think of the people who do try and kill themselves everyday? Do they think of the people who cannot do certain things or have to carry around a brown paper bag due to having anxiety and could possibly have a panic attack at ANY given moment? My answer to this is, probably not. Why? Because of course we know about mental illnesses, but movies and television shows almost play them as a joke; the depressed person always gets better, the anxious person always becomes relaxed, the “I want to kill myself” person always lives and has a great life. The worst take on movies and television shows- psychiatric units. Oh no, that person was in the psychiatric unit, they’re “crazy.” “Watch out for that person they might go all crazy on you because they have multiple personalities.” In all honesty, I just want this stigma about mental health to go away, but that is probably too much to ask. Well, until this article, I honestly thought no one had regrets for something they said or did about mental health. The usual response, “Oh, you know I am just kidding. I don’t seriously mean I’m going to kill myself.”
It is things like this that make people THINK SUICIDE/MENTAL HEALTH is a JOKE.
In the UK, two Halloween stores made costumes to represent a “patient” in a psychiatric unit. One of the costumes was titled “mental patient,” and the other was “psycho ward.” One of the businesses even has a costume called “diabetic.” This is what annoys me. What mental health illness are these costumes supposed to describe and be? Also, have they ever seen what patients wear in a psychiatric unit- other than on television and in movies? Surprisingly, these two costumes brought up mental health awareness in a “positive” (using that word very lightly right now) in the UK.
Mind, a mental health charity based in the UK, pointed out how these costumes work to “fuel” negative ideas about the broad scope of individuals with and experiences of mental illness.
People associate the words crazy, insane, weird, and many others with the term “mental health.” Every mental health illness is different to each and every person. Just like every individual has something different about them. There are all types of levels and types of depression, ADD, OCD, anxiety, and every mental illness out there. It is not the same for two exact people. When you tell someone something and they say “oh, I know exactly how you feel.” Sometimes people just say that to make you feel better. Sometimes people do know how you feel. One example in my life was when my grandmother passed away. I saw her every single day. “My grandmother passed away 3 years ago. I know how you feel. Although, my grandmother lived 5 hours away.” They think they know, but everyone is always on a different relationship level with family members and friends. Some people have never even met their grandparents. My grandparents, they were (and still are) my heroes.
I write a lot about bullying and people committing suicide because they have been bullied. Some people just don’t understand what can happen when they say “go kill yourself,” or “I wish you would die.” Words like that are harsh and unnecessary. This horrible costume idea, “might be a blessing in disguise” says Dr. Simon Williams of Chicago.
“The fact that it happened at all shows that there is still a lot of work to be done to combat mental health stigma.Someone looked at that costume and decided “this is a mental patient”, and thought that was fine,” says Dean Burnett. Many other experts and activists expressed outrage, and the public also took to Twitter to comment and share accurate accounts of what it’s like to be a “mental patient.”
Following the feedback, both Asda and Tesco removed the items from their online stores and issued a public apology.
[This scandal brings] issues of stigma in mental health to public scrutiny.” We live and work in the hope that as these incidents arise, society will become more aware of the power of stigma and the importance of community in combatting it. This Halloween, and every day, consider carefully how the many people with mental health struggles are represented and how you can contribute to more accurate, compassionate depictions.
I understand it is Halloween, and I understand people being immature about adding the word “slutty” to every woman as they walk by in a costume (and how annoying it is), but do they really have to go as far as making a costume about a mental health patient (who has no control over their illness), or even the costume as a diabetic!? What is our world coming to?