Halloween: Mental Illness Stigma

Posted on October 29, 2015

The tradition of Halloween has been preserved for more than two thousand years since The Celts first believed that the boundary dividing worlds of the living and dead became blurred on the 31st of October. Bonfires, ghostly costumes and carved pumpkins were used to ward off evil spirits and demons.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reminds us that whilst Halloween is a wonderful holiday to be enjoyed, it also entails a season for stigma against mental illness. In many cases, "haunted" houses take form of asylums where people suffering from mental illness are depicted as violently dangerous monsters. Costumes range from "mental patients" in straitjackets to murderous knife-wielding psychopaths.

Meant without ill intention, these stereotypes nonetheless perpetuate stigma against children and adults who struggle with mental illness. Moreover, life-like figurines hung on nooses from a backyard tree does little for families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Hundreds of choices for costumes are available that are do not hurt anyone or portray insensitivity. Let us be kind while we enjoy this festive holiday.

Source material from National Alliance on Mental Illness