It's trick or treat time again. We don't mind ghosts and goblins, but when "haunted house" attractions become "insane asylums," featuring "mental patients" as murderous ghouls, we protest.
Violent stereotypes are inaccurate and offensive and the U.S. Surgeon General has determined that stigma is a major barrier to people getting help when they need it. Help send the message!
Here's an example. NAMI New Jersey is fighting an "Asylum of Terror" sponsored by a local museum and supported by a local Walmart and Dunkin' Donuts, to name a few. Please e-mail the museum to let them know that perpetuating stigma towards persons with a mental illness is a national — as well as local — concern.
In Your Own Communities:
- If offensive Halloween attractions or products appear, contact sponsors, advertisers or sellers personally. Educate them. Ask them to remove offensive parts of any attraction, advertisements or merchandise that mock mental illness.
- If dialogue fails, alert NAMI members, family and friends to phone, send letters or e-mail the sponsors or stores.
- Contact local newspaper editors and television news directors. Educate them about stigma and your concerns. Make the protest a "news event" and a "teaching moment." Offer consumers and family members for personal interviews.
Cell Block Psycho
StigmaBusters report that Walmart stores are selling a "Cell Block Psycho" adult costume that is also sold online by other companies. The site also offers "psycho" costumes that include straitjackets and shackles.
These are only the tip of iceberg, but let's educate those we can.
Mike Duke, CEO
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716-8611
Send a message also through Customer Service ("Other Comments & Questions").
Jalem Getz, CEO
5915 S. Moorland Rd.
New Berlin, WI 53151
(262) 901-3100 (fax)
Complaints also can be sent through the company's Web site or its toll free service line: (800) 459-2969.
Thank you to all StigmaBusters who contacted New Monic Books after last month's alert about the inappropriate vocabulary example in an SAT preparation book.
The company listened and is removing the example from the next edition of the book, which will be published soon.
We thank them.
Out of the Inbox
Because of the large number of StigmaBuster messages received, they cannot all be answered individually; however, we appreciate every e-mail and do review every stigma report and prioritize them for action.
We also appreciate receiving copies of responses. They are important in helping to coordinate strategy and pursue genuine dialogue. You are our eyes and ears! Your help makes a difference!
Please send reports of stigma to Stella March.