12:00pm Saturday 5th October 2013
A CREATIVE father-of-two from Tiverton whose work forms part of national mental health campaign has criticised a supermarket’s decision to sell a ‘mental patient fancy dress’ costume.
Andy Gardiner, whose mixed media photograph appears in a self-help book, said he was shocked when he heard ASDA was selling the £20 outfit, which included ragged clothing, fake blood, a mask and fake meat cleaver.
Tesco also had a ‘psycho ward’ outfit featuring orange boiler suit and plastic jaw restraint – and offered to ‘complete the look’ with a machete.
Both supermarkets have now withdrawn the outfits after they were criticised for stigmatisingpeople with mental health issues and both also agreed to make donations to mental health charity Mind.
Andy, who has suffered with anxiety in the past and is involved with the creative project Rethink Your Mind, said: “There doesn’t seem to be any real thinking behind their actions before it’s too late – and that always seems to be the way with these big companies.
“I was pleased that they were withdrawn. One in four people will suffer from a mental health issue or a serious form of stress at some point in their life but people don’t seem to realise how common it is.
“It all gets pushed to the side, which is why I decided to get involved with this campaign.”
The project raises awareness of mental health issues through a book and CD, which will be released on Monday to coincide with World Mental Health Day.
Both feature Andy’s blurry photograph, taken at Exeter Train Station and created in response to the campaign’s competition title ‘With good mental health I have..’
“I was trying to come up with an idea and I was thinking about how life is a journey, said Andy.
“I suppose I was just thinking about life and people travelling and how everyone is doing their own thing and no oneknows one another. People are by themselves and suddenly they are pushed together.”
Rethink Your Mind project manager Peter Hirst said he hopes the campaign will get people talking about mental health in the right way.
He added: “It is sad that it is another negative news story that gets everyone talking aboutmental health but it has got everyone talking.
“This project is about bringing mental health into the foreground, allowing people to connect andspeak about the subject in a very positive way.”
For more information on the project, or to download the CD free of charge, visit www.rethinkyourmind.co.uk
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