Mental health campaigners call on York bar to withdraw ‘offensive’ event

The Drawing Board. Photograph © Google Street View
25 Oct 2018 @ 8.28 pm
| Health & fitness

An earlier version of this story inadvertently used the picture of another bar, Dusk. We apologise for the error

A Halloween event in York has been criticised as ‘unacceptable’ by mental health campaigners.

The Drawing Board is hosting Return To The Asylum on Saturday (October 27) as part of its Halloween weekend.

Describing the club night, organisers Ante Up say: “The deranged doctors and nurses have lost control of the mental Asylum AGAIN and all the killers and psychopaths are running free. Enter at your own risk…”

But this languages stigmatises people with mental illnesses, a support group said.

‘Simply unacceptable’

Yor-Peer Support, a York mental health peer support group, has written to the managers of The Drawing Board asking them to withdraw the event.

In their letter Amanda Griffiths of Yor-Peer Support and Jake Furby of York LGBT Forum say:

  • Every year there are a few organisation who unwittingly cause offence by promoting Halloween events themed on mental health and the culture of asylums, which attracts considerable attention from charities and prominent figures who rightly express their outrage.

    As a group of lived experts we request that you rethink the theme of your Halloween event to prevent any further offence being caused…

    Those experiencing mental health difficulties are often the most vulnerable who are at higher risk of being hurt by other people and it is unethical to promote that we are dangerous killers and psychopaths who need medicating.

    Many of our peers are trauma victims and survivors who experience considerable distress due to terrifying life changing situations, and it is simply unacceptable to stigmatise any group of vulnerable people for a Halloween event.

‘We would like to apologise’


Among those giving their support to this request were York councillor Paul Doughty.

Former director at York mental health charity The Retreat, and chief executive of Hull and East Yorkshire Mind, David Smith was also critical of the event:

Dan Killen, General Manager of the Drawing Board, took on board the criticism. He told YorkMix:

  • Well first of all we would like to apologise if anyone has found any of the language used in our promotions offensive.

    At this current time I’ve not been in contact with any of the offended parties so personally I couldn’t speculate at to what they would want removing.

    However the team here at The Drawing Board will work with our friends in Ante-up and Uprising to ensure we get our messages across without using language deemed offensive.

7 thoughts on “Mental health campaigners call on York bar to withdraw ‘offensive’ event

  1. I am losing the will to live with shit like this. Take offence where offence is intended, people are WAY too quick to cause a stir over the most minor of things like this just to get their 5 minutes of fame (in York press?!) when there are much bigger battles to be fought. They need to get a grip.

  2. Myself, as a long-time sufferer of various mental health issues and an advocate for the removal of the negative stigma surrounding MH, I am beyond offended. No, not by the event nor the wording on the poster; I am offended by the calls from campaigners to have this removed.
    The only offence I feel is that campaigners believe I and others like me would be offended by this harmless wording. In no way do I feel that this stigmatises mental health, and this pathetic campaign is doing mental health support an absolute disservice.
    Campaigners should withdraw their comments and apologise for this negative publicity. We do not need protecting in this way. This is not the support we want or need.
    Everyone knows the stereotypical creepy old Asylums with outdated and inhumane practices which caused many patients to worsen in condition and go a little crazy. You see it in horror films and on TV all the time. Nobody is confusing these old Asylums with today’s mental health support, nor are the patients or practices in any way comparable.

  3. I get it stigma of mental illness is a real issue, but this is stupid… mental health isn’t under attack with an asylum themed horror event, Christ people need to get a grip and stop over reacting. Old asylums were creepy and gross because of how inhumane they were. Creepy god complex mad scientists costumes are not an attack on doctors. Psycho killer costumes are not an attack on the mentally ill. People know the difference between horror tropes and real life.
    Or at least they should. And I am saying this as a person with mental health issues, and an avid horror lover. There is more important issues you could be fighting for.

  4. If those with mental health get triggered at this bar for this event then can they choose to not go? Are mental health sufferers being forced to attend?

    Section 10 of human rights act gives you freedom of speech & freedom of expression.

    You choose to attend an event, only those who want to take part will go!

    If people are offended by an event they can choose not to go or take part or even look at the event advertisements!

    The fact the mental health campaigners took the time to study this bar & event shows that it does not have that bad of an impact!

    You cannot suppress peoples right to express themselves at a private event where people choose to attend because those who won’t attend are only offended by the very existence of this private event at a private venue!

    1. “If those with mental health get triggered” – everyone has “mental health”, Ed, the condition of which can change rapidly and unexpectedly. The issue here is with the agenda promoted by such language and portrayal of mental health problems and illnesses, implying that those that require medical help are all serial killers/psychopaths.

      So many die without help because of these false stigmas, stigmas which cause completely unwarranted shame and a sense of failure. We struggle enough to get people the help that they deserve, and cannot have popular, commercial nights such as these promote any ideas that can further hinder this. Halloween is a time for the fantasy and make-believe, unfortunately neither of which mental health issues are.

      There’s “being triggered”, and there’s damaging vitriolic ideas.

      1. This is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever read. I’ve suffered with mental health problems for over 15 years yet massively fail to see why this is offensive in any way shape or form to anyone with mental health problems. I find it hugely patronising that people would assume it would be offensive.
        Of course 100 percent we all want any stigma attached to mental health to disappear but I really don’t see why/how a Halloween event based on Asylums would create any kind of issue for anyone with mental health problems. One of my favourite Halloween songs is ‘The Lunatics Are Taking Over The Asylum’ 🙂 Why? Because it’s a cool song about old style asylums, which everyone knows were barbaric and inhumane…That’s why they’re scary and can be associated with Halloween. Maybe all vampire costumes should also be banned in case they offend people needing blood transfusions. I just don’t get it. My mental health felt stable recently..until I read this. I think my will to live just ended. Get a grip and remember the best remedy for mental health problems is…laughter! Zero respect for this ridiculous article!

      2. Being a sufferer of mental health issues myself I can say quite easily that, you are wrong.

        This event, its messaging and what it is trying to convey is a bit of fun. If you don’t like it and want to go on a crusade… Feel free, but not in my name.

        If anything, it made me want to go and check it out and support them… So you probably failed in your efforts to shut it down.

        More power to them… I say start a campaign to keep it going and send a firm message to social justice warriors….

        Not in the name of mental health, go away find something else to get triggered over.

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