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Stores pull costumes making fun of mental illness

Two retail chains in the U.K. have removed “staggeringly offensive” Halloween costumes making fun of mental health from their online stores.

Retailers Asda and Tesco have apologized for the costumes which appear to joke about mental health issues. (Via ITV)

Asda’s costume, called “Mental Patient,” shows a man wearing a blood-stained coat while carrying a meat cleaver. (Via BBC)

And Tesco’s costume shows a man in an orange jumpsuit that reads “psycho ward.” The outfit comes equipped with a syringe as well as a mask.

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After the controversial costumes went on sale, people with mental illnesses as well as mental health advocates took offense because they were upset about the negative stigma put on mental illness. Metro reports social media was also a helpful tool in getting rid of the costumes.

Many people suffering from mental health issues used Twitter to express how they felt. A leader of a mental health charity said one out of every four people suffer from some type of mental illness every year.

A writer for The Guardian says the costumes inaccurately portray people who suffer from mental health problems and adds there’s still work to be done in order to improve the view on the mentally ill.

“Mental patients are rarely violent. The term ‘mental patients’ includes people like depression sufferers, who struggle to lift their heads some days, let alone go on a blood-soaked killing spree. You’re far more likely to be attacked by someone who isn’t suffering from a mental disorder.”

Asda says it’s “deeply sorry” and will be donating money to a mental health charity called Mind. A spokesman for another mental health charity welcomed the apology after the “breathtakingly insensitive” costumes were taken off the market. (Via CNN)

Tesco issued a similar apology but didn’t say if it would donate any money to charity. A spokeswoman with the mental health charity Asda is donating to said she hopes the companies will use this as a lesson to carefully review products before they’re put on the shelves.

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