For the love of all that is good in this world please DO NOT dress up as a ‘mental patient’ this Halloween.
If you need this explained to you (which okay, I will do because I’m in a super patient mood), then please remember that people struggling with mental illness are just people. People with an illness. People going through a rough time. They are not there to be ridiculed.
Would you dress up as a person in a wheelchair for example? And I’m not saying a character who uses a wheelchair (even though that raises problems of its own), but would you literally go as a wheelchair user? NO.
At least I hope you wouldn’t because that’s disgusting.
So why would you go as a stereotypical and ableist interpretation of a person experiencing mental health difficulties?
Also this whole association with mental illness and being scary or dangerous is wrong. It enforces stigma which leads to people taking their own lives. Yes, this sort of ‘light hearted fun’ has a death count.
Most of the time these ‘costumes’ and the performances that go with them serve to ridicule and alienate people who experience delusions, schizophrenia, or psychosis. These people are actively being presented as people to laugh at, or people who pose a threat.
Just fyi, mentally ill people make up 90% of people who die from suicide in the UK alone. You want to know what can lead to this? Stigma. Alienation. Ridicule.
Not to mention that mentally ill people are more likely to be the VICTIMS of violence and abuse than perpetrators.
Also, if you’re pretending to experience psychosis and running around in a straitjacket with your eyes rolling into your head, then how do you think that’s going to impact someone who actually suffers with psychosis?
a) you’re telling them they’re a figure of ridicule, and that you see them more as a cheap joke than a person deserving of compassion and respect. You are essentially striping away their humanity because of an ILLNESS.
b) you are potentially stopping them from seeking help because they are afraid that they will be seen as a danger, as a stereotype, or that they will even be put in a straitjacket and have their humanity denied again. You are increasing the fear of seeking help for a life threatening condition. Let that sink in.
c) you are letting the world know that you care more about a cheap laugh at the expense of a struggling person than about the daily lives of the mentally ill.
I’m not here to tell you what to do, okay. You can do what you want. If you want to dress up as a mentally ill person this Halloween, then go for it. But I thought you should know what that says about you, and what that does to actual mentally ill people.