27/09/13 £25 thousand

When I was little – you know, that generic age you remember when you were all wide eyed and everything was exciting – I remember doing a number of things that would fall under the heading of ‘naughty’.

In my defence, I’d like to say it was never my fault – my behaviour was almost invariably a result of being misled by my mate Derek or my brother.

When caught red handed, mum would give me ‘the talk’ – usually a lengthy exchange about the rights and wrongs of what I’d done, the morality of it and what personal responsibility was all about.

I remember standing there – avoiding eye contact – shifting my weight from one foot to the next – wondering if Michael Murray would still be around to play after this bizarre and unusual punishment.

I remember thinking the childhood version of, ‘For the love of God will you just HIT ME, so I can go back out to play’

What does £25 thousand get you these days? A trainee recruitment consultant in London? A recently qualified teacher, nurse, social worker? A BMW 3 series 316i sport?

No matter – hold that thought though.

Yesterday, an important paper was published by Rethink, a UK mental health charity, that highlighted around 30 thousand people with mental health problems were dying up to 20 years earlier than the general population because of preventable physical illness.

You can find it here

A striking figure which Rethink feel is all but ignored by the government.

They call for training to raise awareness across the board for everyone working with people with a mental health problem.

Cool. It ain’t gonna be cheap, but 30 thousand untimely deaths – and that’s not including the 5 thousand plus folk who take their own lives every year – surely it’s worth taking notice….?

Cue the story about mental patient Halloween costumes.

Charities and well intentioned individuals speak out against Asda, Tescos, Amazon…whoever…

It’s ridiculous, it’s tasteless, how did these costumes ever get put on the shelves?

I don’t think I’m alone when I say these well intentioned folk and groups aren’t speaking for me.

From the folk that I’ve met on my ramblings around the UK and the folk who’ve been in touch with me on the interweb, many of whom don’t have a mental malady, I’d say roughly 0% think that the cleaver wielding, blood soaked lunatic is representative of your person with a mental health problem.

These are caricatures designed for the purposes of the FANTASY of Halloween.

This story knocked the tale of 30 thousand untimely deaths out of the news headlines.

100’s of folk with mental health problems shared pictures across the interweb of how they looked.

Laudable though this show of solidarity was, the audience was largely limited to other people with mental health problems and others who have an understanding of their plight.

The world was tidily divided into the plucky victims of mental health problems and their supporters against those nasty corporate monsters and the members of the public who just don’t understand.

The outfits were duly withdrawn and £25 thousand – the potential profits from the sales of the crazy costumes – was donated by Andy Clarke (CEO of Asda UK ) to a mental health charity (MIND).

So, instead of the talk that my younger self would have given money to get out of, Andy enjoyed the short, not so terribly sharp, rap across the knuckles – at no point being asked to think about what he’s done.

A great chance for some manner of engagement with the masses has evaporated.

Instead of thinking we are all axe wielding maniacs, the public thinks we’re a humourless bunch of loons too fragile to take a joke.

I’ve emailed Andy and Asda customer services in an attempt to get some manner of dialogue going, but I’m not holding my breath.

So, in short, crazy Halloween costumes are bad; people with mental health problems know what we look like (so does the vast majority of the population – we walk amongst you) and Mind are £25 thousand better off for telling Andy Clarke he’s been a naughty boy.

Normal service has now been resumed.

Bit of a bugger about those 30 thousand…


Nothing…forgetI said anything…

I’m off to complain – my (fictional) uncle Norman has been dead for 20 years and those bastard retailers are mocking his death by selling costumes of zombies!!!

Would you believe it?

Walk a mile


This entry was posted in economy, government, inequality, kindness, mental health, social work, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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