Tesco and Asda have apologised after it emerged they had been selling Halloween costumes depicting ‘mental health’ patients online.
Both retailers removed the lines after receiving a barrage of complaints from mental health campaigners who said the costumes, which depicted a ‘mental health patient’ and someone from a ‘psycho ward’, were “staggeringly offensive” and “‘extremely misguided”.
The move is particularly embarrassing for Asda, which launched its adult Halloween costume range just weeks ago. The costumes have attracted comment on Twitter, with one user calling on Tesco and Asda to “stop perpetuating mental health stigma to make a profit”.
“Asda and Tesco have shown themselves to be extremely misguided with their ‘mental health patient’ fancy dress costume. It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood,” said Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, an anti-stigma campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
“However it is encouraging to see the groundswell of outcry on Twitter and that our voices are being heard. We hope this will urge Asda and Tesco as well as other retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds, to avoid fuelling stigma and discrimination that are so damaging for large numbers of the population.”
Asda apologised and said that the listing of the costume was an “unacceptable error”. A spokeswoman for the retailer said: “We’d like to offer our sincere apologies for the offence it caused. We take our responsibilities very seriously which is why we will make a sizeable donation to Mind.”
Tesco, which had an orange jump suit costume on sale depicting a character on a ‘psycho ward’, added: “We’re really sorry for any offence this has caused and we are removing this product from sale.”
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