This is what a mental patient looks like

Yesterday I spent a while with a group of service users and their supporters hanging around the gates of Thorpe Park. Only Katie Sutton, initiator of the online petition “Thorpe Park – close down the stigma”, was allowed on the grounds, and then only to hand in the 5800+ strong petition printed out in hard copy. This was a smart move on Thorpe Park’s part; everyone arrives either by car or by shuttle bus from the station, so there was no chance of anyone other than pre-warned local press stopping to to talk to us.

I decided not to dress up, but I did have a placard. I kept it really simple, because this is all I really wanted people to know:

This is what


I don’t go around wearing a strait jacket. I don’t wield an axe. The only time I get remotely scary is if I receive really bad customer service, but I’m usually easily placated by an apology and my money back. If you add up all the hours, I’ve spent far more time as an NHS employee caring for others than I have a have as a “mental patient.” I believe that falsely linking mental illness and violence can harm people like me. That’s the problem with the Asylum: nothing to do with hating fun, hating Halloween or hating horror. I read and watch plenty of zombies, vampires and werewolves and I’ve loved trick or treating with my kids. The thing I don’t like, that I am justifiably afraid of, is stigma.


12% of people agree that it is frightening to think of people with mental illness living in a residential neighbourhood

17% think that locating mental health facilities in a residential area downgrades the neighbourhood

21% of people think that someone should be hospitalised at the first sign of mental disturbance 

(Attitudes Towards Mental Illness 2011 Survey Report)



About purplepersuasion

40 something service user, activist, writer and mother living with bipolar disorder. Proud winner of the Mark Hanson Prize for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards #VMGMindAwards
This entry was posted in Activism, History of mental health, Mental health, Stigma and discrimination and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to This is what a mental patient looks like

  1. Those statistics are scary. The last one especially, 1 in 5 people think I should be hospitalised. How many people do I know? there’s 120 in my office alone that means about 24 people.

  2. goldenpsych says:

    I remember once in a class full of social work students, one of the students, when talking about group care and institutions saying along the lines of “well, I wouldn’t want someone like that living next door to me”, referring to a person with mental health problems. 3 people walked out.

  3. Pingback: Mental Health and Fiction: striking the balance | Suzanne Conboy-Hill - finding fiction

  4. Coo, if only hospitalisation was that efficient, is my one comment! 😉

  5. Moersalijn says:

    Those facts should be doubled or perhaps tripled in my country 😦

  6. whereasi says:

    I’m a grandmother raising mentally disabled grandchildren in Hamilton, ON, Canada and the biggest threat to my grandchildren’s safety is that they don’t look mentally disabled, therefore, people assume they have no excuse for their impulsive, sometimes aggressive behaviour. Getting more information out into neighbourhoods about mental health is vital if disabled people are going to live productive sociable lives. Thank you for your post- please check out my website at – Barbara

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