Halloween and the dangers of stigma

October 30, 2014

halloween_1Renew.  Rebuild. Recover is a blog submitted by West Michigan Community Mental Health.

Halloween is a time for ghosts, goblins and trick-or-treating.  But it’s important to remember that costumes and themes related to “psych wards” or “mental patients” are not only offensive, they perpetuate harmful stigma.

Few people would think it appropriate to dress up as an individual affected by AIDS or cancer. Costumes and events that poke fun at mental illness are just as insensitive.

Mental illness is common, so common that nearly every person you know has a friend or family member with mental illness or has experienced mental illness themselves.  Portraying mental illness and mental health treatment as scary, horrific, or an even just an entertaining subject for spooky thrills causes shame and hardship for people who live with mental illness, and can even deter people from seeking treatment.

As you plan for Halloween, and all year long, please remember that mental illnesses affect real people, including people you know and care about.  Treat these topics with respect.


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