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Liberal Democrat health care minister Norman Lamb of Britain argued that Halloween brands the mentally ill as “psychos or schizos”, though officials at Downing Street dismissed his remarks.
Lamb urged retailers at the National Child and Adult Services conference in Manchester to stop “demonizing” those with mental health problems this Halloween, noting that selling costumes who mock patients in psychiatric hospitals can be “dangerous” or harmful. Lamb added that costumes featuring handcuffs and restraints can instill fear in those with mental illnesses.
"For me it is horrendous that, this Halloween, a young person experiencing a mental health crisis could easily come across someone in a 'psycho ward' or 'schizo patient' costume,” Lamb said, “complete with handcuffs and ripped restraints - as much as they could see someone in a Dracula costume.”
Lamb noted that costumes mocking mental health patients create a stigma that they are “other worldly” and prevent those suffering with disorders from seeking help. He noted that everyone should be able to enjoy Halloween, not just the mentally privileged.
Downing Street officials distanced themselves from Lamb’s comments, noting that Halloween is merely a time of the year to have fun. A spokesperson for the government stated that retailers have the right to respond to consumer demand, but that respecting those who suffer from physical and mental illness is a view widely shared.
Last year, supermarkets Asda and Tesco came under fire for selling “mental patient fancy dress” costumes and “psycho ward” outfits. However, similar outfits are still available worldwide on the Internet.
John Lawlor, the chief executive of Northumberland, Tyne and War NHS foundation trust supported Lamb’s statement, noting that no one would be seen wearing a cancer patient costume. Lawlor argued that no one should treat such issues so lightly.
Source: The Guardian
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