Crathes Castle to light up green after '˜mental asylum game' row

The National Trust for Scotland which angered mental health campaigners by organising a controversial fund-raising 'mental hospital escape game', has agreed to light up Crathes Castle green to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week.

Crathes Castle - photo: National Trust for Scotland

Simon Skinner, the trust’s chief executive, sent the Mental Health Foundation Scotland (MHFS) charity an apology saying it will respond to their suggestion to light up Crathes Castle, in Banchory, Aberdeenshire on 14 May, after the story first appeared in The Scotsman last month.

Mr Skinner wrote: “The National Trust for Scotland at no time intended to ridicule, disrespect or give the impression of stigmatising towards people with mental health problems.”

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Mr Skinner said review had been conducted and all suggestions of “asylum” and “mental health themes” had been removed from the event due to take place in July.

The letter was copied to Neil Oliver, the trust’s president and an ambassador in Scotland for Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

Toni Giugliano, policy manager for MHFS, said: “We welcome NTS’s apology and decision to amend the theme for the fundraiser at Crathes Castle, dropping all references to mental health – it’s the right thing to do.

“We’re especially delighted that NTS will support Mental Health Awareness Week by lighting up Crathes Castle green on 14 May, joining other prominent landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle and the SSE Hydro.

“This will be the 18th year that the Mental Health Foundation runs Mental Health Awareness Week across Scotland and the UK. This year’s theme is Stress – Are we coping? – an issue that affects all of us, and we hope employers and communities across the country will take part.”

“This case shows just how important it is to call out mental health stigma wherever we see it – be it intentional or unintentional.

“We’ve come a long way since the days of the 1950s 
asylums where people with mental health problems were 
secluded and shut off from society.

“That progress has been made largely thanks to a change in attitudes – but there is still more work to be done.

“Our research shows 40 per cent of employers wouldn’t hire someone with a mental health problem. And 42 per cent of Scottish employees say they would rather make up an excuse such as a stomach ache or back problem for work absence, rather than disclose a mental health problem.”