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Why We Need to Talk About the 'Mental Patient' Halloween Costume

Stef McDonald

A "mental patient" Halloween costume—with bloody straightjacket and ax—was pulled from sale after a Twitterstorm (hooray for social media!). A doctor of neuroscience who called out the offensive costume on Twitter writes, "the fact that it happened at all shows that there is still a lot of work to be done to combat mental health stigma. Someone looked at that costume and decided 'this is a mental patient,' and thought that was fine." Not fine—but let's hope attention to the subject will help.

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  • Alessandra RizzottiAlessandra Rizzotti

    This is worse than sexy Halloween costumes. It reminds me of how TV sometimes overemphasizes racial stereotypes to almost make caricatures of people. I'm really sad that mental health stigmas exist and this costume just emphasizes how uneducated the creator of it was. And with not enough education about mental health in schools, I'm sure this costume wouldn't seem offensive to some kids. I'm really happy that mindfulness is now being taught in classrooms, and I think that meditation as well really helps kids understand their own minds. Same goes for teaching students empathy and social skills. Just wondering if it's time to bring neuroscience into classrooms? I wish more schools had the opportunity to have therapists on site too. Affordable programs like Maple Center make mental health care more accessible as well- and I think that programs like that not only raise awareness, but also make people realize it's ok to seek help. Long rant about my passion for mental health- but it's almost like more people need to speak up about how great mental health is- vs. what's wrong with a costume like this.