Halloween is coming up, and people across the country are getting ready for the delicious thrill of creepy costumes, the sugar rush of Trick or Treat candy, and the sense of freedom produced by masks that hide our true identities.
For some of us, none of this is thrilling. The costumes are scary, not fun, and being surrounded by images of horror causes anxiety rather than exhilaration. Excessive sugar consumption leads to out of control behavior for some kids, and jumpiness for children and adults alike. Horrifyingly misguided images of mental illness are presented in costumes and popular culture.
It can all add up to something far from fun.
What can you do for yourself and your kids if Halloween isn’t an appropriate holiday for you?
- Opt out. There’s no law requiring you to join in a celebration that’s terrifying. October 31 can be an ordinary day. Turn off the porch light and it can be an ordinary night as well.
- Choose alternative celebrations. A harvest festival is an enjoyable alternative, and you can probably find plenty of public options that focus on pumpkins and apples rather than ghouls and werewolves.
- Stand up against sugar. If flooding your kids’ systems with sweets is not a good choice, it might not be a good choice for other kids, either. Hand out healthier treats like raisins or stickers at your door, and if you take your kids trick or treating, limit the places you visit and hand out candy in reasonable quantities over a longer period.
If you’re ready to speak up about mental health stigma at Halloween, check out suggestions from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for raising awareness.