Mental Illness is Not a Costume
I’m sure many people have read articles on how cultures and ethnicities are not be used as costumes. Perhaps you’ve have a few heated debates about this with friends and family, or a FB fight, or a Twitter war. However, did you consider that Mental Illnesses should not be a costume too?
Imagine you go to a party dressed as a “Psych Ward Patient”, and not knowing that one of your friends was recently in short term care at a hospital in the psychiatric wing. Your friend may not have mentioned it to you because of the stigma that is associated with inpatient stays. Now they may not trust you to be one of those they can depend on because you’ve demonstrated that you think their condition is scary or a farce. Now they feel ashamed, and perhaps when you learn of your faux-pas you might feel guilt.
Halloween is known to use mental illness as a way to scare people. However, for the majority of people, mental illness is scary for those who have it, and their loved ones watching them in pain, not the general public. Yes, there have been horrific events that have been attributed to someone with a mental illness. However, those are rare. The majority of people with a mental illness would not harm another and are not to be feared.
Mental illness should not be used as Halloween entertainment. Let me rephrase that; someone’s fear and pain should not be used as Halloween entertainment
For further reading on this topic:
A woman with schizophrenia discusses the realities of having her illness, and the hurt she feels when seeing false representations and costumes of her condition.
More about costumes in general:
Haunted hose attractions featuring mental illness: