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Eurovision gimmick 'trivialises mental health problems'

Charities and mental health champions say straitjacket joke fuels stigma and should not have been broadcast

Mental health champions have condemned a ‘joke’ that aired during the Eurovision Song Contest, claiming it trivialises mental health problems.

During the event, broacast around the world on Saturday (May 14) and watched by an estimated 180 million people, a man wearing a straitjacket was shown next to Swedish co-presenter Petra Mede.

The Eurovision Song Contest has been condemned for making a joke about a man wearing a straitjacket.  Picture credit: @tahiramirza1

Ms Mede then joked: ‘If you’re a really crazy fan I strongly recommend the Eurovision straitjacket. You know what they say; crazy is the new black.’

Mental health nurse Julie Sheen, a trustee for mental health charity Chester PLUS, said: ‘As it’s Mental Health Awareness week I was particularly dismayed to hear these comments.

'It worries me that none of the producers spoke out or stopped this section of the programme before it happened.

‘If you were about to be admitted to a mental health hospital or thinking of reaching out for help and saw that image it could prevent you from getting the help you need.

'As a previous user of mental health services, I know how frightening it can be and imagining that others see you in that way could be extremely damaging.’

Head of communications at Time to Change, a campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, Kate Nightingale said: ‘It's disappointing that mental health problems, which affect one in four of us in serious and sometimes devastating ways, are being used as part of a Eurovision gimmick.

‘Trivialising mental health problems and reinforcing outdated stereotypes of people in straitjackets has harmful consequences, making it harder for people to reach out for help and support.

‘The Eurovision Song Contest is watched by many and it would be great to see it used as a platform for raising mental health awareness, not fuelling stigma,' she said.

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