Letter: Mental illness not joking matter

Writer has concerns about Hallowe’en event

Over the last few years I have observed people using mental illness and psychiatric facilities as the object of a joke and the inspiration for a fun activity to raise money. The idea of using a “lunatic asylum” for a graduation fundraiser in Castlegar has been fully supported by a number of parents and the school while all along being the subject of hilarity.

For the last two years and possibly longer, people followed through with this fundraiser. Recently, I noted Facebook posts making “lighthearted fun” of friends who are supposedly in a psychiatric facility. Separately, I have also witnessed certain healthcare professionals enjoying a laugh over remarks regarding psychiatric situations.

For anyone who has ever had any experience with a psychiatric institution, directly or indirectly, I can assure you that it is anything but funny. It is a painful experience for the patients and their families.

Why is it that some people feel that it is okay to poke fun at psychiatric facilities and the people in them? One doesn’t see it happening to people who have cancer or other serious illnesses. And like other serious illnesses, mental illness often leads to death — through suicide or self-medication — and it is absolutely heartbreaking for families to go through.

Mental illness touches us all. It is not a black and white state of mind but instead a spectrum. We all know someone on the spectrum — whether it is someone who has had the blues for an extended period of time, or someone who experiences fear and anxiety for a variety of reasons: being in social situations, leaving the house, irrational worries, someone experiencing PTSD after a traumatic event, OCD, bipolar illness, schizophrenia, etc. The list goes on and on.

Making fun of people with a psychiatric illness and the facilities that exist to support them by holding a Halloween fundraiser and dressing up as “crazy” people and by poking fun in other ways contributes to the stigma and keeps mental illness in the closet. What’s the point of being out in the open on the subject if people are afraid to speak up out of fear of being the butt of a joke?

Five years ago, I lost my daughter to mental illness. I’m not laughing.

K. Maloff

Castlegar

Just Posted

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Readers’ theatre comes to Castle Wood Village

Volunteers and residents gather for a bit of fun at one of Castlegar’s senior residences.

Community Futures launches cannabis consultation program

The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative helps businesses move into the legal economy

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

PLACE NAMES: More on the great Creston Kootenay debate

Members of the Lost Kootenays Facebook site weigh in on whether Creston is in West or East Kootenay

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was pressed to clarify his stance abortion over several weeks

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Gord Turner: Obstacles stand in the way of recycling everything

Castlegar columnists looks at recycling challenges.

Most Read