Controversial Response to Mental Health Issues on Our High Street

A recent article published in the Guardian has highlighted the insensitivity and ignorance around mental health still when a popular high street store caused controversy this week.

The store has apologised, although there were a few mindless comments leading to the apology, which would suggest it was a slightly forced apology.

As part of its accessories range, the store is selling a card with the message: “Don’t get mad, take lithium”. The comments have caused a reaction and some offense to people with bipolar disorder as well as some professional onlookers. It was however, the reaction to the offense that struck as the most ridiculous.

When the marketing of the product, which can be seen as trivialising mental illness, was challenged the official response on Twitter followed: “If you know anyone with bipolar disorder, then don’t buy it for them. PROBLEM SOLVED.”

There were more offensive comments following further challenges to the response. Furthering highlighting the ignorance of the marketing team.

Mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness called the comments “deeply offensive”, “aggressive” and “obnoxious”. The comments were also described as “ignorant to the reality of mental health”.

The language used in the products as well as the language used to construct responses to the offense taken is an interesting thing. Language around mental health is especially difficult and our choices continue to inspire a multitude of reactions.