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Don’t say ‘psycho’! Why you should watch your language this Hallowe’en

If 2020 wasn’t scary enough for the entertainment industry, two businesswomen from Kent have ditched their ‘mad’ plans for Hallowe’en after talking to the people behind a Liverpool-based national campaign.

Maidstone-based Samantha Fellows and Daisy Stapley-Bunten, of Corporate Entertainment Professionals (CEP), have dropped references to all things ‘crazy’ ‘psycho’ or ‘insane’ following a discussion with the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA).

Acts like ‘straitjacket patient’ have been removed from their website and ‘crazy scientist’ is now ‘sinister scientist’. They are also advising clients against using themes like ‘psycho ward’ and ‘insane asylum’.

Samantha said: “The entertainment industry is facing the toughest time in its history. Normally we would have had more than 200 bookings across October. This year, as result of COVID-19 restrictions, we have only 10.

Just don’t say ‘crazy’

“The effects of lockdown and local restrictions to avoid the spread of coronavirus have meant that many in our industry have taken a huge financial hit. This has a massive impact on their mental health.

“Following a discussion with the ZSA we have decided to make radical changes to what we offer, to avoid any unintended stigma for people living with mental illness. We felt that it was inappropriate for us to perpetuate the myths that can cause real and lasting harm.”

As part of their campaign to lead the way in sensitising marketing language, Samantha and Daisy plan to take the ZSA’s online training and hope other agencies will be inspired to follow suit.

Samantha Fellows and Daisy Stapley-Bunten, of Corporate Entertainment Professionals (CEP)

Chairman of the ZSA Joe Rafferty said: “The use of language is incredibly important if we’re to remove the stigma that sadly still surrounds mental health even in 2020, and I must applaud CEP for the lead they are taking in helping to set the standards in their industry.”

“We know that perpetuating existing stereotypes alienates those who need help and stops them from reaching out.”

The ZSA have three models of training designed to give everyone the skills required to help those who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. The Step Up Module gives a brief introduction to the training, while the Gateway Module gives the basic skills to help those struggling and takes 5-10 minutes to complete.

The main ZSA Suicide Prevention Training, which takes around 20 minutes to complete, provides a more comprehensive look at the methods to help those needing to reach out. They can be accessed here: https://www.zerosuicidealliance.com/training

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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