Asda apologises for 'mental patient' fancy dress costume
Asda has been forced to apologise and withdraw a fancy dress costume from sale after critics claimed it would help foster the stigma and discrimination experienced by people suffering from mental health problems.
The supermarket’s "mental patient fancy dress costume" has been removed from Asda's website and Tesco has followed suit by withdrawing its "psycho ward" outfit from sale.
The Asda costume, which cost £20, included a jacket splattered with fake blood, a mask and a fake meat cleaver. The outfit provoked widespread criticism on Twitter which included condemnation from footballer Stan Collymore, former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell, and the Rethink Mental Illness charity.
After withdrawing the costume from sale, Asda said on Twitter: "We're deeply sorry one of our fancy dress costumes has upset people. This was an unacceptable error - the product was withdrawn immediately."
The supermarket added: "We'd like to offer our sincere apologies for the offence it's caused and will be making a sizeable donation to @MindCharity."
Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, England's biggest anti-stigma campaign, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, said: "Asda and Tesco have shown themselves to be extremely misguided with their ‘mental health patient’ and ‘psycho ward’ fancy dress costumes. 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.
"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, Tesco and 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."
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