October 30, 2014

It was just a little more than a year ago year ago when people in this movement and many others used their experiences, voice and collective ‘muscle’ to stand up to two household names who were stocking offensive Halloween costumes with “mental patient” and “psycho ward” themes.

After so many years of working to improve public understanding and attitudes towards mental health problems and those of us with them, when the supermarkets withdrew the costumes, apologising and making donations this was an historic milestone.  Becki Luscombe was at the very heart of this.

The use of social media was pivotal in the success of this piece of campaigning and helped to cement its role in helping to empower people to find their ‘online’ voice and thereby bring about real change.

Becki had sparked off a huge response and #mentalpatient started to trend.

The defining moment of this campaign was when a young woman took to twitter using her wit and humour to powerfully reverse this terrible and harmful stereotype.  In less than 140 characters she shared what was her own version of a “mental patient” costume posting a ‘selfie’ of her in an everyday outfit. 

In a matter of minutes this fuelled the imagination of thousands.  Selfies of people in pyjamas, football shirts, jeans, suits, and uniforms followed.  Becki had sparked off a huge response and #mentalpatient started to trend.

Here was Becki’s original tweet, which her parents Richard and Sue have given us permission to include.

It is hard to find meaningful words of comfort for Becki’s parents, having lost her a few weeks ago.  Becki’s letter to us and colleagues at Mind illustrates the qualities she had in bucket loads – compassion, passion, and the ability to inspire and empower others.  She has asked us to “continue the fight”.

It is Becki’s funeral on Friday 31 October, Halloween, and Richard and Sue have asked us to continue her legacy by challenging stigma.  We hope there is some comfort in the fact that her short life has made the kind of impact which leaves a long and lasting legacy.

In Becki’s memory our movement will continue to challenge stigma and discrimination when it reveals itself, whether disguised as Halloween ‘fun’ (as we are witnessing again this year) or the insensitive and inhuman commentary about suicide.

On Friday our thoughts and wishes will be with the Luscombe family and everyone that campaigned alongside Becki.

If you’ve been affected by this blog, there are people you can speak to. The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90. There are other sources of support and advice here.

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