December 8 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
A Norfolk tourist attraction has been accused of fuelling the stigma surrounding mental health by staging a Halloween event where the “inmates have overrun the guards, and are out of control.”
The Dinosaur Adventure Park at Lenwade will be bringing back five scare attractions as part of its PrimEVIL event, including the “Insanitorium” between October 25 and November 2.
However, a county councillor has complained to the organisers about the marketing for the event, which she said was fuelling the negative stereotype surrounding people with mental health issues.
Officials from Dinosaur Adventure said they had never received a complaint in the four years they had been running the Halloween event and the Insanitorium was not focussed specifically on mental health patients.
However, Emma Corlett, councillor for Town Close in Norwich, who is also mental health champion at Norfolk County Council, said she took objection to the marketing for the event, which says: “The bad news is that it’s awful timing for your tour around Weston Hall Insanitorium - the happy, smiley clinic. The inmates have overrun the guards, and are out of control! The good news is that it’s party time and you are all invited.”
Ms Corlett said it was wrong to portray the mentally ill as out of control and follows the controversy earlier this year after it emerged that Asda and Tesco had been selling ‘mental patient’ costumes for Halloween.
“The Dinosaur Park Insanitorium event is fear mongering and negative stereotyping of a similar kind. There are plenty of other ways to celebrate Halloween without portraying the mentally ill as out of control, savage sub-humans. They are not. They are you, they are me, our friends, our families, our work colleagues. This negative stereotyping implies that those who access mental health services are violent, dangerous and unstable; people to be both feared and mocked,” she said.
Martin Dupee, operations director at Dinosaur Adventure, said: “This is the fourth year we have run the Insanitorium and this is the first time we have received a complaint. It is fictitious and the actors we have employed are portraying fantastical characters and there is no intention to offend anyone.”
“It is to scare and to make people laugh and have a good time. It is no different to other scare attractions like London Dungeon
“The actors are experienced and trained and if people get upset or nervous, they come out of character and let them get out.
“Some of them can be deemed as patients of a hospital or a prison. They are inmates and locked in and have become extremely high and giggly,” he said.