Earlier this week we and many others complained about offensive ‘psycho and lunatic’ Halloween costumes being sold online by Jokers’ Masquerade.
I’m disappointed by their response, published yesterday, which is patronising and misinformed. To dismiss those of us with mental health problems who have complained about the costumes is a serious error of judgement. Encouraging others to poke fun at people with mental health problems – which is essentially what these costumes do - is something which deserved a decent apology.
Social media gives people a voice to address stigma and discrimination and using it to raise concerns about stigmatising costumes like this is surely a good thing, although we would never condone abusive comments or behaviour. As a company reliant on online orders, it is puzzling that they dismiss complaints from people on Twitter.
Many thousands of people are working hard to challenge stigma related to mental health, in particular outdated and harmful stereotypes of people using mental health services. As campaigners we have often used humour to challenge stigma - but these costumes and the company's response to legitimate concerns have gone way beyond the realm of humour.
We hope that everyone has a fun and enjoyable Halloween without it being at the expense of people with mental health problems, or anyone else.