Wow, that was a busy night on twitter – but a successful one as Asda and Tesco have now withdrawn their “mental patient” Halloween costumes. In this morning’s autumn sunshine the nation is left scratching it’s head and wondering, how the people working for these corporations, ever thought this was a good idea?
The proportion of the UK population experiencing some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year is 25%; Asda’s share of the grocery market at the end of August this year was 17%, so in a spectacular own goal, they have offended, upset and alienated more people that they actually serve. But at a more personal level, if you apply these figures to the company themselves, 35,000 UK Asda employees have suffered or are suffering from some form of mental illness right now. This fuels my long held suspicion that large organisations are generally useless at caring for staff with mental health problems, and that actually, for the most part, their staff are suffering without their knowledge. Because, as we know, mentally ill people are not violent, blood soaked maniacs, as the hundreds of “selfies” on twitter demonstrate. In fact all the mental health patients who have posted their pictures on line to show Asda what they look like, actually look like, well, everyday people. Because that’s what they are.
I work with people who have been so ill that suicide has seemed like a reasonable decision, the journey back to health is long and hard, and the final step is often a return to work. Adsa, Tesco, and the other guilty parties have now made this even harder. And it is through sheer ignorance and an unwillingness to look around them at the world they live in. For all our 21st Century “advances” it seems anything “different” is bad, and we need to make fun of it to make ourselves feel better.
Not good enough, not good enough by a long shot.