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#FaceOfMentalIllness Shows Mental Illness Is Not a Halloween Costume

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While living with a mental illness can feel scary at times, it shouldn’t provide inspiration for a Halloween costumes. That’s the message mental health advocates are trying to spread this Halloween by sharing their selfies with the hashtag #FaceofMentalIllness.

“We created the #FaceOfMentalIllness campaign as a response to the recent (and sadly, annual) occurrence of retailers selling costumes depicting self-harm and suicide, and the amusement park industry portraying people with mental illness as something to be afraid of inside of horrible and terrifying mental hospitals,” Jennifer Marshall, cofounder and executive director of This Is My Brave, told The Mighty. “Mental illness is nothing to make fun of, or use as a frightening attraction. Doing so only reinforces the social discrimination that still surrounds mental illness. We wanted to show the world the true face of mental illness — everyday people who you know and love.”

As part of this is my Brave’s callout, people from all over the country have shared their selfies and stories of living with a mental illness.

Approximately one in five Americans lives with a mental illness. The stigma attached to mental illnesses often keeps those who need help from getting it. “Sometimes mental illness feels scary, but it’s not a horror show,” Marshall, who lives with bipolar disorder, said. “A diagnosis doesn’t mean your life is over. Whether we’re touched by it directly or indirectly, mental illness is something we all need to understand. The more we’re able to empathize with each other, which we can do by sharing our stories, the more we can learn to support each other through facing mental health challenges…By sharing our stories we’re saving lives.”

You can participate in the campaign by sharing your selfie with the hashtag #FaceofMentalIllness.

Originally published: October 28, 2016
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