BAYLEY HOWE & CLARE KENYON
EXCLUSIVE: Mental health lobbyists have slammed plans by a Perth nightclub to host an “Insane Asylum” themed Halloween night this evening.
Today, the popular Ambar Nightclub was marketing an event called “Ambar Insane Asylum” to be held tonight.
The event is based on a psychiatric horror movie. Ambar’s Facebook page described a psychotic patient and suggested the cure was “bass on drip” and being seen by resident DJs posing as psychiatrists.
Recently at the Perth Royal Show, a psychiatric exhibit based on London’s infamous Bethlem asylum, was criticised by mental health groups as being offensive and insulting, resulting in a last-minute change to a disease outbreak theme.
WA Mental Health Association president Alison Xamon said it was disappointing to hear yet again of people inappropriately making light of the whole issue of mental illness in the name of entertainment.
“Mental health distress is a very real issue and the reality is that people can lose their lives as a result,” Ms Xamon said.
“All this is doing is further stigmatising the issue of mental illness.
“We need to be encouraging people to get the support they need when they are in mental distress, not turning the whole issue into one of mockery.
“What we do know is the highest rate of mental health issues are experienced by the very demographic that the nightclub is targeting – we should instead, be encouraging them to seek support.
“I know some people would say I’m a killjoy but unless you have actually experienced a mental health issue or someone close to you has, or even worse, someone you know has lost their lives, you will perhaps never fully understand the issue.”
Marika Mazzucchelli, communications officer for Ambar operator, Boomtick Pty Ltd, said the club had not received any negative feedback and nobody had approached Boomtick with any concerns.
“We have open lines of communication with all of our patrons and had anyone approached us directly with their concerns, we would have taken it seriously,” Ms Mazzucchelli said.
She said the entire Boomtick team had input to, and provided feedback on, the event.
HORRIBLE HORROR MOVIES?
Horror movies have long been a part of pop culture and there is a close link between mental health and horror movies.
A Wikipedia search by InkWire today showed more than 80 movies had been set in psychiatric hospitals or “insane asylums”.
WA Consumers of Mental Health executive director Shauna Gaebler says the concern with horror movies is that they overdramatise issues that are very real for people.
“It’s not like a zombie movie where people can laugh and have fun with it because it’s not real,” Ms Gaebler said.
“What is shown on these movies doesn’t happen, but people mix up the two.”
She said cases like Ambar’s Halloween night reinforced stereotypes and created irrational fear of people who are mentally ill.
“We need to build respect in the same way it would be seen as unacceptable to have an over-the-top disrespectful exhibition for people with disabilities,” she said.
After InkWire got in touch with Ms Gaebler, she spoke to Boomtick which promptly changed the name of tonight’s event to “Ambar Halloween” and removed the “psychotic patient” reference.