Halloween Mental Patient Costumes Pulled by Apologizing Stores

Friday, 27 Sep 2013 08:52 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Those in the U.K. looking to dress up as a mental patient for Halloween may have to find somewhere else to get their costumes after two major retailers dropped the outfits from stores.

Asda withdrew its "Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume" while Tesco removed its "Psycho Ward" outfit after the supermarket chains received complaints claiming the Halloween attire was contributing to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Mental health charities, including Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and U.K. politicians alike felt Asda's bloodstained straightjacket getup complete with a meat cleaver and Tesco's orange jumpsuit with jaw restraint were insensitive.

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"We are trying to change attitudes towards mental illness so people do not stigmatize it and something like this comes along and it just reminds you we are basically still in the Dark Ages," former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell told the BBC. "We are still in the Dark Ages if some of the biggest companies in this country think that it's acceptable to sell something like this."

Both Asda and Tesco immediately pulled their costumes from store shelves, issued apologies, and even offered to make donations to a mental health charity.

"We're really sorry for any offense this has caused and we are removing this product from sale," Tesco said in a statement.

Asda, which is owned by Walmart, apologized via Twitter Wednesday night.

But the damage was done as a #mentalpatientcostume backlash campaign launched on Twitter.

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