THE co-founder of a group helping youngsters in the town who have been self-harming has spoken out over the decision to sell ‘mental patient’ Halloween costumes.
Kerri Jones, whose group No Secrets meet at the Centre of Independent Living on Beaufort Street, has battled depression and attempted suicide in the last eight years and says many members have been offended and upset by the move.
The 27-year-old said: “People don’t really understand mental health problems and there seems to be a lot of fear around it.
“They sometimes think you’re dangerous or a risk to them.
“I was fuming when I saw the news because it just reiterates that.
“Before I was diagnosed I used to believe the stigma that people with mental health problems were scary or dangerous and would possibly hurt you and so things like the costume just doesn’t help.”
Kerri was studying children’s nursing at university when the death of a young patient triggered her depression and she started to self-harm.
After finding very little was known about self-harming, she set up No Secrets in 2007, which recently gained charitable status, with her mum.
She added: “It’s not just a personal level that it made me angry but after supporting other people who self-harm and working so hard to tackle stigma and change attitudes, things like this involving such a big company make you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.
“In a strange way though it has helped to raise awareness.”
A MENTAL health trust has slammed a supermarket giant for selling ‘mental patient’ Halloween costumes.
The chief executive of 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which supports patients with mental health problems in Halton, Knowsley, St. Helens, Wigan and Warrington, said the decision was ‘utterly shocking’.
Asda bosses quickly apologised and withdrew the £20 outfit it was selling online which included fake blood, a mask and a fake meat cleaver after criticism last week.
National reports also described retailers Tesco and Amazon selling a Halloween outfit including an orange boiler suit with ‘Psycho Ward’ written across the front and back, along with a ‘Committed’ stamp below.
Mr Barber added: “We welcomed the public condemnation which shows that – quite rightly - there is no appetite for these grossly offensive items.
“Mental illnesses are very real medical conditions in the same way that physical health conditions are.
“Disability is not a ‘costume’ to dress up in.
“Through our ‘Sticks and Stones’ campaign, we have been trying to stamp out mental health stigma and find it extremely encouraging to hear so many people speaking out about this disgraceful error of judgement.”