StigmaBusting Network and Alerts
NAMI CAMPAIGN STIGMA BUSTERS EMAIL ALERT Update
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Ms. Stella March
NAMI PROTESTS NESTLE'S PROMOTION OF MENTAL ILLNESS STIGMA
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter also Objects; Nestle's Candy Contrasts with White House Anti-Stigma Campaign.
Arlington, VA-Nestle USA believes the names of three of its Tangy Taffy flavors are "rooted in a silly, playful humor" that "amuses children and gives personality to our cartoon characters."
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), on other hand, considers the names to have "long-standing stereotypical associations with person suffering from mental illnesses" which promote stigma in society. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter agrees with NAMI, but so far the giant candy maker doesn't seem to care.
NAMI's Campaign to End Discrimination therefore has launched a second phase in its efforts to persuade Nestle of the error of its ways. In a letter to Joseph Weller, CEO and chairman of the board of the California-based company, released today, NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn wrote that the organization is "outraged and offended" by Nestle's continued use of the product names "Psycho Sam," "Looney Jerry," and "Weird Wally" for its Tangy Taffy bars. "We join former First Lady Rosalyn Carter in expressing our profound objection to such names and images in the promotion of candy sales."
Since 1998, NAMI has engaged in "quiet diplomacy" with the company, but this time it is going public in its efforts, calling on its network of Stigmabusters and others to join in protests against the candy names. "We assure you that mental illnesses are not silly, playful, or humorous; in no way can these devastating disorders be related to fun," Flynn declared. "We know this because we face these illnesses every day."
Flynn also cited President Clinton's radio address before the recent White House Conference on Mental Health, which spoke to the "tremendous harm caused by the stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly in relation to children" and announced a national public education campaign to combat it. "Stigma leads to children committing suicide rather than revealing their inner struggles; to adults failing to seek treatment that could salvage their lives, careers and family relations; and to tragedies like the Columbine High School massacre," Flynn advised Weller. "Nestle cannot make the injury disappear by ignoring or dismissing our concerns, as you have thus far."
"We are sure you have acted out of ignorance, not malice, and that it was not your intent to cause harm or to perpetuate discrimination," Flynn said. "But you have and will, unless and until you remove these products from the shelves or repackage them more appropriately."
Letters of protest can be sent to Mr. Joseph Weller, CEO & Chairman of the Board, Nestle USA, 800 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, California 91203. Comments can also be sent via email at http://www.nestle.com/html/q.html
Since the Chicago Convention, we have sent NAMI letters to several companies and personalities responsible for perpetuating stigma with irresponsible statements and offensive language about persons with mental illness. As always, if we do not receive a positive response we will post an Alert for your letters.
Meanwhile, we are re-opening the Nestle Tasty Taffy Tangy Candy Bar alert. Their wrappers carry the names Psycho Sam, Loony Jerry and Weird Wally, each name attached to a cartoon funny face.
Their form letter to NAMI and to many of you included "Nestle creates candy that is meant to be fun as well as great tasting. Part of the fun we have incorporated in the Tangy Taffy line is rooted in silly, playful humor . . and gives personality to our animated characters. The names such as Psycho Sam, Loony, Jerry and Weird Wally are names of characters, not a person or group of person." They follow with an apology saying they never intended to offend anyone.
Please send your letter explaining again why their response is most unacceptable.. We know that these names, so closely associated with taunting persons suffering visible symptoms of a severe mental illness, do continue to offend. Devastating severe mental illnesses can in no way be equated to a "silly", "playful," or "fun" experience.
Letters should be addressed to:
Mr. Joseph Weller,
CEO and Director of the Board,
800 No. Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91203
Again, thank you for your letters and support of NAMI
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We look forward to hearing from you!