There are examples of asylum-based Halloween attractions all over the country. Every year at this time, right next to the chainsaw-wielding masked men and flesh-eating zombies, are the mental hospital patients. The message isn’t subtle: People with mental illness are to be feared.
But this year, under pressure from mental-health advocates, haunted attractions big and small have begun to change names and descriptions of — or have shut down completely — scenes that depicted mental illness as frightening. The activism is part of a broader, burgeoning movement to lift the stigma about mental illness, which has long led to social and employment discrimination.