What does a ‘Mental Patient’ look like ? For Asda it looks like a grotesque figure with a hideous face blood stained clothes brandishing a meat clever. For me my image of a ‘Mental Patient’ is something different and if I want to see what one looks like I just look at my reflection. I had struggled for years and undergone treatment for Depression I had suffered from a mental health problem but I’m not unique in that. As many as 1 in 4 will suffer from a form of mental illness.
So in case you have not heard Asda and Tesco decided that an ideal Halloween costume would be the grotesque figure complete with blooded shirt and meat cleaver. They then decided to label it ‘Mental Patent’ “so what’s wrong with that” some said “its only a harmless bit of fun” some declared. Unfortunately it is not just a harmless bit of fun. Imagery can be very important and what this costume did was reinforce stereotypes and help enforce the stigma that surrounds mental health. We already have people facing discrimination and fear of coming forward, this outfit just feeds the misconceptions and myths around mental health. Now everyone can make mistakes with imagery. I myself have used the “Headclutcher” image in a blog before something I regret as it does not truly represent who people with mental health problems are.
What happened next was an example of people power. As the image from Asda’s website went viral the angry reaction on Twitter forced the Asda to withdraw the outfit. The Supermarket chain apologized and explained they would make a donation to Mind. This showed that people can make a difference and also that people where not prepared to sit back and let this happen.
But this was not the story ended, twitter not only forced Asda to drop the outfit it then had the inspired #Mentalpatient hashtag, turning something positive from the incident. Thousands of people posted pictures of then self’s in their ‘mental patient’ costumes and these pictures consisted of normal people doing normal things. Because that is what a ‘mental patient’ looks like we are all individuals from all walks of life, we need to work together to end the stigma. And like I said at the start if I want to see what a mental patient looks like I just need to look in the mirror.
When I started writing this blog my intention was to share my thoughts on local politics and inform on other areas of interest. My hope was to regularly update my blog and keep people informed.
Now there has been gaps in the time between my posts and I have not been able to update as frequently as I would like to.
So I thought I’d write a post to offer a brief explanation.
Firstly as a ward councilor I have a responsibility to my residents. Even though the past month sees a reduction in council meetings I have been busy with aspects of case work for my residents.
As a councilor I also have the opportunity to work with other organizations. My work has included attending meetings and helping out with ISCRE and the North West Big Local Trust. I have also started writing for a ‘Writers of Colour’ a collective of writers looking to increase diversity in the media, I’m proud to have had some pieces published and have been involved in debate and conversation with people from as far flung as America,Canada and Japan.
As a father of a teenage son this also keeps me very busy as well. I hope keep updating my blog on a more regular basis.
I suppose I should disclosure an interest, I have an ongoing heart problem and because of the medication I’m on I have to have continual check ups to make sure my kidneys are ok.
As I was sitting in a Doctors surgery recently I read some pretty worrying figures that may not only effect me but other members of my community.
Black people are three times more likely to need an organ transplant but less than 1% of people on the NHS Organ Donor Register are from our community.
A transplant is more likely to be successful if the donor and recipient have the same ethnic origin.
Currently over 760 people from Black communities are waiting for a transplant
This has lead to an acute shortage of suitable organs means Black people wait nearly twice as long for a kidney transplant
On average 3 people who need a transplant die every day in the UK, if more people registered as donors more lives could be saved.
For more information http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk
Or Text REGISTER to 84880
One of Ipswich’s most popular guided walks of the year, the “Horrible History of Ipswich for Grown Ups”, takes place on Wednesday 7th August at 7pm.
The walk is being led by the Ipswich Tourist Guides and starts from the Borough Council’s Tourist Information Centre.
Inspired by the popular children’s books and TV series, this is history with the boring bits taken out and the gory bits left in – and given a local twist.
Discover the darker side of Ipswich’s history – hangings, burning at the stake, the plague, bear baiting, grave robbers and worse. Hear about the worst job in town (the “night soil man”) and the Town Executioner, who used to strangle his condemned customers before setting fire to them. Learn the origins of everyday phrases like “The graveyard shift” and “Saved by the bell” and why locals kicked up a stink when the Corporation wanted to install the town’s first sewage system.
The cost is just £3 per person and places should be booked in advance at the Ipswich Tourist Information Centre, St Stephen’s Church, St Stephen’s Lane – telephone 01473 258070, email firstname.lastname@example.org