Update: The Circus of Horrors show has been renamed and their marketing has been updated to remove mental health references and stereotypes- 8th December 2018
The Circus of Horrors is currently touring their new show called ‘Psycho Asylum’. This show wrongly portrays mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia, and details psychiatric wards and hospitals extremely inaccurately. It is events such as the ‘Psycho Asylum’ which build mental health stigma rather than breaking it down.
The show suggests that sufferers of these illnesses are violent and threatening. In reality these people are more likely to be the victims of violence; not perpetrators. Individuals commonly take up self-harming behaviours and inflict pain onto themselves rather than others.
The British Crime Survey states that around 30% of victims believed the offender attacked them because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Contrastingly, only 1% of victims believed that the incident happened due to the offender having a mental illness.
The outdated association between mental illnesses and violence is a stereotype which needs to be left in the past. It isn’t fair for a show to be the reason that people isolate themselves from society, to escape the myth that they are violent.
If I asked you to think about a psychiatric ward, your mind would probably jump to the things seen in movies, right? People being locked away by chains, or beaten and tortured everyday. This could not be further from the reality of present day psychiatric wards. Psychiatric wards are the workplace of professionals that dedicate their lives to helping people to recover from their mental illness. Service users receive treatment and therapies which teach them to cope and adequately function on a daily basis. They can receive education and support with individual studies. They have free time to paint, go outside, read, write letters, call their loved ones…
I am blessed to have friendships with people that have experienced time in psychiatric wards. Here are some of the things that they had to say about their time there:
‘My time in a psychiatric ward saved my life. I experienced episodes of depression and I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed or smiled. The nurses there helped me to smile again.’
‘I thought psychiatric wards were dark and scary but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was art everywhere, and music always playing. The nurses and other service users were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.‘
‘I was on a psychiatric ward for five months. As I recovered I was given more freedom and the nurses helped me to stop self harming. Today I’m 835 days clean.’
I have contacted ‘The Circus of Horrors’ although they have not replied. I will continue to voice my concerns with this show, in the hope that the inaccurate and negative mental health stereotypes can be removed. I would appreciate my readers sharing this post so that a change can take place. You can also email ‘The Circus of Horrors’ at email@example.com
People deserve to live in a world where they are not stereotyped and misjudged by people cruelly wanting to make money from their vulnerability.
Love Casey x
Below are links to websites that can support you if you are suffering from mental illness.
116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)