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Why Were 'Mental Patient' And 'Psycho Ward' Costumes Pulled From Walmart-Owned Stores?


"We're deeply sorry one of our fancy dress costumes has upset people."

On the heels of Walmart's controversial decision to stop selling the "naughty leopard" Halloween costume comes news that two British stores -- Tesco and Asda (the latter is also owned by the American retailing giant) -- have been pressured into pulling two adult-sized costumes.

The reason for the removal? The costumes are supposedly offensive to people with mental health issues.

Here are the two costumes in question -- the "Psycho Ward" jumpsuit and the "Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume":

Screen grab.

Both feature some fairly standard Halloween looks: a Hannibal Lecter-masked madman holding a giant syringe while wearing a bright orange jumpsuit with the words "Psycho Ward" printed on it. And then there's the crazed, blood-thirsty maniac with a meat cleaver.

Despite the fact that cleaver-wielding madmen have been part of Halloween costumes for decades, mental health advocates in England took exception to the costumes and registered formal complaints. Their concerns resulted in not only the costumes being pulled from stores, but also generated sizable cash donations to the charity that complained.

Which charity complained? A British group called Rethink Mental Illness. The organization's chief executive, Paul Jenkins, called the "mental patient" costume "breathtakingly insensitive."

According to the BBC report, Tesco has pulled the products from stores and online outlets, and issued the following statement: "We're really sorry for any offence this has caused and we are removing this product from sale."

Asda, for its part, stopped selling the costumes and released a statement saying: "We're deeply sorry one of our fancy dress costumes has upset people." The store sweetened their apology by offering a donation of more than $40,000.

The British version of ebay has also eliminated any auctions featuring the allegedly offensive costumes. However, Americans can still find many for sale in online auctions sites, including ebay.com.

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