Halloween and Mental Health

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Creativity is the key when Halloween rolls around with people dressing up, ready to send chills down your spine.

However, medical advocate groups are voicing concerns over certain costumes, including those depicting psychiatric illnesses such as wearing straight jackets. They say those types of costumes could put mental illness in a negative light, potentially harming people who suffer from those disorders.

Psychologist Steven Abernathy explained, "I wouldn't want to see that happen anymore than I'd like to see a sexist or a racist, or any other form of discrimination. You wouldn't make fun of cancer patients or diabetes, [so] why would you with someone with a mental illness?"

Others say Halloween is a fun holiday and those dressing up shouldn't be bothered with technicalities.

Thomasville resident Cynthia Walker said, "I don't think it affects anyone. When I was a child we dressed accordingly, it was fun and that's what Halloween should be, about fun."

Advocate groups say they worry people dressing up as someone suffering from a mental illness puts a stigma on psychiatric disorders, which a U.S. Surgeon General's report shows is one of the greatest barriers to mental health care.

There is no official law saying you can't dress up how you want for Halloween, however, advocate groups are just asking people to be more sensitive when it comes to mental illnesses.