October 28, 2009 19:32 ET

NAMI Issues "Stigma Alert" Over Inaccurate and Offensive Halloween Costumes, Attractions

National Alliance on Mental Illness Opposes Halloween Costumes, Attractions That Perpetuate Mental Health Illness Stereotypes

ARLINGTON, VA--(Marketwire - October 28, 2009) - As Halloween approaches, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is issuing a Halloween "stigma alert" for costumes and other seasonal attractions that feature inaccurate and offensive stereotypes regarding those with mental health illnesses.

NAMI points out ghosts and goblins are one thing, but when "haunted house" attractions become "insane asylums" featuring "mental patients" as murderous ghouls, it's time for the organization, and public, to protest. The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that stigma is a major barrier to people getting help when they need it and NAMI chapters across the country are working to make sure Halloween does not turn into a chance to perpetuate these stereotypes. What to do?

--  If offensive Halloween attractions or products appear in your local
    stores, contact sponsors, advertisers or sellers personally. Educate and
    ask them to remove offensive parts of any attraction, advertisements or
    merchandise that mock mental illness.
--  Alert local NAMI chapters, family and friends to phone, send letters
    or e-mail the sponsors or stores.
--  Contact local newspaper editors and television news directors. Educate
    them about stigma and your concerns.

For example, NAMI New Jersey is fighting an "Asylum of Terror" sponsored by a local museum and supported by a local Wal-Mart and Dunkin' Donuts, to name a few. There are several ways supporters of NAMI and advocates of those with mental illnesses can also help spread the message that perpetuating stigma towards persons with a mental illness is a national -- as well as local -- concern.

Visit the NAMI Halloween Stigma Alert at: for actions you can take.

About NAMI:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-partisan organization with 1100 state and local affiliates, dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in NAMI's mission by grassroots advocates have produced profound changes.

Additional Web Resources:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness:

NAMI StigmaBusters Alerts:

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Christine Armstrong
    3803 North Fairfax Drive, 22203
    Arlington, VA 22201-3042