Blood, guts, and gore are all the norm on Halloween, and it seems to be the scarier the better. We celebrate Hallows Eve by taking on different personas, watching murderous movies, and consuming a lot of sugar-filled candy and booze. On any other night these behaviors would be of concern, but apparently nobody is talking about mental health on Halloween.
Due to the fear that Halloween is designed to stir up, it’s a night that could easily turn into a nightmare. Here are 3 things to remember about your mental health on Halloween.
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A Mental Illness Does Not Mean You’re Psycho
We have all seen celebrities being criticized for offensive costumes that portray negative stereotypes, but if this were a friend, would you be brave enough to confront them?
With 1 in 5 people having been diagnosed with a mental illness, the truth is that it is not all that uncommon, and the reality looks much different than what is seen in the media.
Anyone who has had in-patient mental health treatment knows that the common depiction of straight-jacket escapees and muzzle wearing “psychos” are not representative of the mental health care system.
So let’s set the record straight.
- Sterotype: People who are mentally unstable could hurt me.
- Truth: People with mental illness are more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator.
- Stereotype: People with mental illnesses are criminals.
- Truth: Most violent crimes are not committed by people with mental illnesses.
Mental illness should not be used as a Halloween prop, and the stereotypes behind these types of costumes are highly inaccurate.
Costumes Are Hocus-Pocus
Continuing on the conversation of costumes, it’s important to bring up the effect costume choices have on mental health.
Along with the normal stress that can come from choosing the best costume, Halloween attire can enforce gender stereotypes, be used to objectify women, and create an atmosphere that fosters poor body image.
Halloween is one of the only socially accepted days to go against social norms, and costumes are one of the main ways to express defiance.
Sexualization & Body Image
This study explained how Halloween parties may be sexually objectifying experiences for women.
The objectification from others has been shown to evoke “self-objectification which has effects such as habitual body and appearance monitoring“.
In other words, women become more conscious of their bodies, and this could lead to mental health problems based on objectification theory.
Since both men and women sexualized the women in the revealing costumes, it is important for all involved to assess and reflect on their beliefs about revealing dress.
I think Naomi Litwack from HerCampus.com says it best:
No matter what you choose to dress up as, just have fun with it, and remember to protect your mental health on halloween.
You Don’t Have To Play With The Bogeyman
Personally, haunted houses are one of my least favorite parts of Halloween. People jumping out without warning, loud noises and screams, and navigating through the the dark is not something I enjoy.
Yet, year after year I used to buy tickets for Halloween Horror Nights, haunted houses, and scary mazes knowing that I would probably be closing my eyes and holding on to someone’s sleeve.
So why did I go? Simply put, I thought “that’s just what you do”.
But there are plenty of activities that don’t involve anxiety-inducing panic such as:
- Pumpkin Carving
- Hay Rides
- Bobbing for Apples
- Fall Festivals
If you don’t enjoy the scariness of Halloween, choose something that you can make happy memories from! Don’t be afraid to say no to friends who want to do anything you’re not comfortable with.
Alcohol & Parties
According to this study, college students are among the heaviest drinkers in the United States.
With Halloween as the 5th “booziest” holiday of the year, there seems to be plenty of drinks to go around. However, alcohol plays a major role in mental health and can mimic psychiatric syndromes as seen in the mental health setting .
Again, don’t be afraid to say no to parties that are serving alcohol if you know you shouldn’t be around it.
Remember Your Mental Health On Halloween
Fill your night with activities that you will enjoy. Celebrate without worry by taking care of yourself first, and setting healthy boundaries with others.
Having mental health problems doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Halloween. You just need to know your limits, and make the right choices to have a safe night of fun.