Should Mental Illness Halloween Costumes Be Allowed?

As Halloween arrives, Heart's opened up the debate on mental illness-themed costumes and events.

They've been in the news in recent weeks, with Asda and Tesco both pulling costumes from their shelves, and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard apologising for the promotion of a party.

Mental health charities condemned the costumes, while the Dockyard's event was heavily criticised by people on Facebook.

Just yesterday (Wednesday 30 October), a petition with more than 5,000 signatures was handed to Thorpe Park, calling on the theme park to change the name of its 'Asylum' Halloween maze, saying it's offensive to people with mental health issues.

But is the criticism fair? Could it be argued that they're just harmless fun, and not mocking those with mental health issues?

Heart asked for your views on this issue, and also spoke to the Solent branch of the mental health charity Mind.

Richard Barritt, CEO of Solent Mind, said:

"One in four of us has a mental health issue these days. It's part of the human condition and I think we realise that now - even if Asda and Tesco didn't.

"My view isn't that important. The view of people with mental health issues is much more important and they were pretty outraged. There was a huge amount of activity on Twitter.

"Here we are, well into the 21st Century and this kind of portrayal of people with mental health issues really takes you back to the dark ages.

"You can't just expect people to accept that they can be the victims of that kind of offensive behaviour. We just don't think like that anymore."

We also asked for your views on Twitter to @heartsouthcoast and using #HalloweenSouthCoast.

Kareena says 'mental patients are often depicted in Halloween films and no-one complains about that'; Rachel thinks 'everyone needs to stop being so sensitive'; Mike says 'it's political correctness ruining something harmless'; and Paul's tweeted 'you won't be able to go as a mummy or a zombie next as it may offend dead people'.

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