How To Dress Up As A Mental Patient This Halloween

Halloween is coming up! (Yay or not yay depending on your upbringing). It’s that time of year where every shop is trying to sell food/costumes/decorations in orange, green, and black. Rather than spending your hard-earned cash on those ‘mental patient’ costumes that keep appearing, here’s a cheap and cheerful guide for you:

  1. If you’re actually getting dressed, you’re off to a cracking start. The same PJs for the 6th day running (minus toothpaste stains because, let’s be honest, you probably haven’t had the energy or motivation to clean your teeth) would be more accurate.
  2. Occasionally ‘good’ days happen – we make the most of these. We change from old PJs to new PJs and if we’re lucky, still have energy to remove one or two of the empty food/drink receptacles from the shit tip we now call our bedroom (that is, if we’ve had the energy/motivation to eat/drink without our head killing us at any point over the past few days).
  3. Occasionally, we attempt clothes – normally if we have a Drs/mental health team appointment. Crisis team don’t mind PJs too much, but services aren’t usually that impressed if we wander the streets in our jim jams. Apparently this is Not Normal and often results in a Crisis Referral (even if we are insistent we are not in crisis and actually jim jams are comfy and we just couldn’t be bothered to find some clothes).
  4. Find your biggest, baggiest jumper. It will hide a multitude of sins. Weight loss or gain, recent self-harm, your PJ top, whatever. (Also doubles up as a blanket/hug/hiding tool when the world is too much).
  5. Debate jeans/jeggings. Cry over jeans/jeggings. Give up on jeans/jeggings.
  6. Settle for leggings. Can’t find any clean leggings. Cry. Wear the dirty ones.
  7. Find some shoes. Hopefully matching ones. Avoid the mirror – you can’t recognise the person staring back at you (and if you’re pretending you have anorexia, because I hear that costume is a thing, remember you will most likely not be able to tell when you look like – every time you look in the mirror you will see yourself a different size).
  8. Hair been washed in the last two days? It’s a miracle! Let it roam free.
  9. Hair not been washed in the last two days? A messy bun is very ‘in’.
  10. Make-up? Lol. Unless of course you’re trying to convince the mental health team that you are AbsolutelyFineThankYouVeryMuch in which case whack that stuff on – those bags and break outs won’t hide themselves.
  11. If, by some miracle, you actually manage to achieve all this AND get the out of the house AND not cry as you walk down the street – you deserve a medal.

Fun fact: mental health patients, on the whole, look just like you. Generally you cannot tell whether someone has a mental health problem just by looking at them.

You might not think it’s a big deal to dress up as a ‘mental patient’, it’s probably ‘only a bit of fun’ or whatever, but when we’re living with all this crap in our heads trying to kill us every single day, it sucks to see people portraying us as ‘scary’ (Halloween dressing up originated from wearing masks to scare away ghosts). People with mental health problems are actually more likely to harm themselves than to harm others, and the majority of homicides are committed by people who are not mentally ill. All that dressing up in these costumes does, is perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental illness, and further spread the myth that people with mental health problems are scary and dangerous, because the majority of the time, we’re not, and even when a person does become a danger to themselves or someone else – that is their illness, not them. It is the illness trying to hurt people, not the person. People in that situation need help, not making fun of.

There are about a million and one things you can dress up as for Halloween, without portraying yourself as an illness. (You could even dress as a pumpkin – I’m ginger and I won’t be offended by anyone’s attempts to make themselves orange, I promise). Go as a ghost or something (it’s okay, I checked with Casper and he’s cool with it). Have fun! Bob apples, stick your face in flour, try and catch a doughnut on a string or do whatever else it is you choose to do this Halloween, but please, please avoid making life harder for those of us with mental illnesses – life can be hard enough as it is.


4 thoughts on “How To Dress Up As A Mental Patient This Halloween

  1. Someone from my high school used make up to make it look like she had slits on her arm like a Self harmer for Halloween 😧 and I was actually self harming at the time. You’re right things like mental health should not be made fun of, it can do more harm to someone who is mentally ill by making them feel like a freak 😔

  2. I’m pretty sure I was a mental patient one Halloween but I wasn’t dressing up in costume. It was not a fun experience for me so I’d prefer not to see people attempt to replicate it as they’re attending parties and acquiring large amounts of candy.

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