Blog Furore around “mental patient” costumes shouldn’t discourage responsible debate It’s good news that Asda and Tesco have apologised for selling insensitive “mental patient” Halloween costumes and removed them from their stores. The tidal wave of protest on Twitter gives us cause to hope that the casual demonisation of people with mental health needs is becoming less acceptable. It would be a shame, however, if the protests led to anyone thinking that discussion around mental health should be off limits. In fact, there should be more debate on this widespread and often misunderstood subject, but it should be led by people with mental health needs themselves. That’s certainly what we found when we launched Postcards from the Edges, a creative campaign aimed at challenging public perceptions around disability and mental health. Many people with mental health needs leapt at the chance to speak out. Significantly, the postcards they submitted were as likely to be filled with humour as hard-hitting honesty, overturning stereotypes. Our experience is that those affected by mental health issues are keen to talk about their personal stories and everyday lives openly. Indeed, many contributors to our exhibitions created postcards disclosing lifetimes of mental health issues. One card asks: “If I lend him my ears, will he also hear the same voices that I do?” while another depicts a lucky black cat with the caption: “Pity I am mental! A product of my own mind!” This demonstrates the importance of creating a space that allows people to speak out if they feel they are being misunderstood or stigmatized. Gemma Taylor, media assistant.