By Matt Gleason
Mental Health Association Oklahoma
Haunted cardiac units full of demonic patients in need of bypass surgery would be offensive, right? Why is it OK that we flock to pay our scare money to run away from demons in “insane asylums”?
That being said, I must admit that before I worked for the Association, I was a feature writer for the Tulsa World and during those days, I always looked forward to Halloween because it was my chance to write fun stories about haunted houses, and the teenagers who scream their way through them.
Just like most people, I didn’t think twice about attractions using words like “insane,” “mad,” “psycho” and “crazy” in their marketing, and that they always rely on men in straitjackets to spook the teens.
Now I don’t find it scary; it just reminds me that the stigma of mental illness keeps people from seeking the treatment they need.
On social media today, you might come across some powerful statements that reinforce my point. For instance, Jennifer said, “Of course, no one would like to dress up as a cancer patient or someone with kidney failure … I am sad how mental illness is stigmatized into a creepy Halloween costume.”
Now, I don’t want to be a drag on Halloween; I really don’t. Go have fun in the haunted house. Just remember that when your heart slows down after being chased through an “insane asylum” by a guy in a straitjacket, 1 in 5 of the actors covered in fake blood will wake the next morning to face another day of bravely fighting their mental illness.