National Alliance on Mental Illness
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(800) 950-NAMI; firstname.lastname@example.org
It's that time again, when some Halloween haunted houses are presented as haunted "insane asylums," featuring "mental patients" as murderous ghouls. Complaints have already started to trickle in.
Carwinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, NC will transform itself into Scarowinds on some nights beginning Sept. 17, including an attraction called "The Asylum" in which "Insanity is your only hope of forgetting sights and sounds... and you'll be wondering: just who is running this place."
Meanwhile, the "The Pennhurst Asylum" is set to open on the grounds of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital outside Philadelphia -- sparking a controversy that includes former residents of the facility.
The other traditional Halloween concern are costumes like Halloween Psycho with straitjackets and other offensive features.
Violent stereotypes are inaccurate and offensive and the U.S. Surgeon General has determined that stigma imposed on people with mental illness in our popular culture often discourages people getting help when they need it.
So What's a StigmaBuster to Do?
Local protest or education works best -- plus social media like Facebook and Twitter can help you raise public dialogue:
We've received some StigmaBuster complaints about the GEICO commercial that asks: "Does a former drill sergeant make a terrible therapist?" on the grounds that it stigmatizes people with mental illness or trivializes therapy.
Other StigmaBusters consider it hilarious and not really about mental illness.
Do you have an opinion? We'd like to know. How would you rate it on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst? email@example.com.
If you wish to let GEICO know your thoughts about the commercial, their website provides the contact information.
Eyes and Ears
Have you seen stigma in the news, entertainment or advertising media? You are our eyes and ears! Send a report to firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the large number of messages received, they cannot all be answered individually; however, we appreciate every one and review and prioritize them for action. Please also contact the source directly—you have more power than you know! We also appreciate getting copies of responses you receive to evaluate. Your help makes a difference!