A wide range of Halloween costumes and fancy dress can be found for sale online and in many supermarkets. However UK supermarket Asda caused a Twitter firestorm yesterday when it offered for sale a ‘mental patient fancy dress costume’.
The item depicted a blood stained shirt and grey unkempt hair. A plastic meat cleaver and gory facemask completed the ensemble. The product details read ‘Everyone will be running away from you in fear in this mental patient fancy dress costume'.
“Nine out of 10 people using mental health services in patient care report stigma and discrimination from a range of sources" ~ Sue Baker, director of Time to Change
Twitter users took to the social media site to voice their disapproval.
@pols80: .@asda is it just "mental patients" you pick on or do you have hallowe'en costumes depicting other health conditions?
Alex Langford: "Everyone will be running away from you in fear in this mental patient fancy dress costume". Awful stigma from ASDA.
Christina Wilmowski: Why do @asda think it's OK to make a Mental Health costume? Would you make a Cancer Patient costume?
Asda clearly has a social listening program and reads Twitter. It responded promptly. “We're deeply sorry one of our fancy dress costumes has upset people. This was an unacceptable error - the product was withdrawn immediately”.
Sue Baker, director of Time to Change run by the mental health charity Mind said on the BBC Radio 4 Today program:
“Nine out of 10 people using mental health services in patient care report stigma and discrimination from a range of sources".
"Stigma and discrimination is unfortunately still really damaging in England today and this kind of myth of the dangerousness posed by people, that you should be scared of anyone who has used mental health services, is really damaging”.