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Psycho Donuts: Tasteless

TastelessJoin the national on-line food fight.

Help turn lemon donuts into lemonade.

Since early spring, NAMI Santa Clara County and other mental health groups have been fighting an impressive, valiant battle against stigmatizing elements of a "Psycho Donuts" store that opened outside San Francisco.

The store's worst features include a straitjacket, padded cell decorations and tasteless donut names-such as "Massive Head Trauma," which has especially enraged war veterans.

Concern has existed that the company's business plan may envision franchise expansion to other states or communities-but victory may be near. The store owner has promised an "evolution" and some changes are starting to be made. Nonetheless, the story "went national" this week.

  • Fox News ran a "debate" between the business owner-a Silicon Valley entrepreneur-and the head of United Advocates for Children and Families.
  • AOL ran a story with a reader survey-60 percent of respondents supported the store. Last time we checked, there were more than a thousand reader comments posted. Add your own!
  • An ABC News story also produced strong reader comments. Please review them and add your own.

Protests raise awareness and begin a process of education-and dialogue-even if they don't immediately change minds. Here are points to consider in posting your own comments on-line. The basic points can be used in almost any situation-and any ongoing reports of this controversy.

  • The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that stigma surrounding mental illness-including mockery-is a major barrier to people getting help when they need it.
  • Would a business ever seriously consider a humorous theme involving cancer, heart disease, diabetes or burn victims?
  • Mental health advocates work every day to help individuals and families who need help. Does Psycho Donuts support that need? For people who want to learn more about mental illness and education and support programs please visit the NAMI Web site.
  • We respect freedom of speech-which includes our right to protest. We also have a sense of humor (Food fight? Lemon donuts?). But there is such a thing as business social responsibility. Psycho Donuts should not be contributing to a public health crisis by reinforcing stigma. They should be supporting education and recovery.

Yes, donuts can be funny. But not tasteless ones that are hazardous to public health.

We congratulate NAMI Santa Clara County and all the other groups and individuals who have been leading the fight in the local community-and seeking a constructive outcome. We welcome the business owner's promise to "evolve." Let's hope it happens quickly.

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.

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