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.