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STIGMABUSTERS ALERT -- November 26, 2003

NOT FUNNY: The Funny Farm Bar & Restaurant

Happy Thanksgiving to all StigmaBusters. Unfortunately, we can’t give thanks that stigma has been eliminated, least of all in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This month we’ve learned about a real turkey.

A new bar and grill has opened in Tulsa in a strip mall behind a Burger King, reports StigmaBuster Frank Graham. Its name: "The Funny Farm." Its slogan: "You’d be crazy not to go." Its sign depicts a scarecrow in a straightjacket.

Please POLITELY contact the owner to educate him:

  • The combination of the name "Funny Farm" paired with a "crazy" slogan perpetuates stigma against people with mental illnesses. The "Funny Farm" theme might be interpreted differently if it referred to comedians like Laurel and Hardy, Jay Leno, or even Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny—but it doesn’t.
  • The theme is not only offensive. It’s unpatriotic. One out of five Americans experience mental illness at some point during their lives—including veterans. Both President Bush and the U.S. Surgeon General have called on Americans to eliminate stigma because it contributes to an ongoing public health crisis—in which people are discouraged from getting help for biologically-based disorders.
  • The image of a straitjacket is offensive and cruel. It is extremely painful for anyone who has suffered exceptional trauma or abuse during a mental illness. No reputable business would ever dare use the image of a person in a wheelchair or in traction for laughs.
  • Ask for a name change—or at the very least a change in the restaurant’s overall theme by removing the slogan and straitjacket. Remind him too that the offensive theme may contribute to potential legal liability under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or state law prohibiting discrimination against employees or customers with psychiatric disabilities.


Mr. Jack Jones, Owner
Funny Farm Bar & Grill
8278 East 71st Street
Tulsa, OK 74133
Phone: 918-254-4917

Please also send a letter to the editor of the Tulsa World:

  • Express disappointment with the new business, which threatens to tarnish the city’s image nationally.
  • Summarize the points above. Emphasize that President Bush and the U.S. Surgeon General have called for the elimination of stigma.
  • Include a personal story about your experience with mental illness or stigma.

Write to:

Letters to the Editor
Tulsa World
P.O. Box 1770
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103 or the editorial page editor:


NAMI StigmaBusters recently participated in a teleconference on Stigma and the Media sponsored by the Resource Center to Address Discrimination and Stigma (ADS Center), a program of the federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Other presenters included the Carter Center in Atlanta and the National Mental Health Association.

Members of the Center’s Steering Committee include:

  • Laurie Ahern, Co-Director, National Empowerment Center
  • Larry Belcher, Director, CONTAC
  • Richard Birkel, Executive Director, NAMI
  • Patrick Cody, mental health communications consultant
  • Patrick Corrigan, Consortium for Stigma Research, University of Chicago,
  • Laurene Finley, Multicultural Training & Research Institute, Temple University
  • David Gonzalez, founder, The Stigma of CineMania
  • Al Guida, mental health policy and communications consultant
  • Carolyn Nava, Technical Assistance Partnership of Child & Family Mental Health, Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health
  • James Radack, Vice President, National Mental Health Association.

Browse the ADS Center Web site at or contact the staff at or 1-800-540-0320.

Together, we can eliminate stigma and build communities that support recovery.

Thank you for serving as NAMI’s eyes and ears. Although we are not always able to acknowledge every report we receive, we do prioritize and investigate them—and your efforts make a difference.

Stella March