Zero Suicide Alliance are working with leading UK events organisation Corporate Entertainment Professionals (CEP) to tackle the potentially lethal effect of stigmatising language in addressing mental health issues.

In the build up to this weekend’s World Mental Health Day (WMHD, 10 October) and Halloween (31 October), the two organisations have joined forces to tackle the often unintended stigma used in modern society that stops those with mental health issues asking for help.

Following talks with ZSA and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, one of the founder members of the Alliance, CEP owners Samantha Fellows and Daisy Stapley-Bunten are aiming to lead the way in sensitising marketing language and encouraging other agencies to do the same.

“The use of language is incredible important if we’re to remove the stigma that sadly still surrounds mental health even in 2020, and I must applaud CEP for the lead they are taking in helping to set the standards in their industry,” said Joe Rafferty, chairman of the ZSA.

“Quite often the use of stigmatising language used isn’t even intentional and sometimes it’s down to a lack of education, but we do know that by perpetuating existing stereotypes, it alienates those who need help and stops them from reaching out.”

CEP has pledged to sacrifice future business to fight mental health stigma and have made the following changes:

  • Crazy Scientist feature as part of their ‘Halloween’ events to be renamed as ‘Sinister Scientist’
  • Straight-Jacket Patient to be removed from their events
  • They will advise clients against using ‘Psycho Ward’ and ‘Insane Asylum’ themes and suggest alternative themes
  • Become ZSA members and take their award-winning suicide prevention training
  • Partner with Mersey Care, one of the leading mental and community health trusts in the country, and partner with them in ongoing work to sensitive marketing language.

Samantha Fellows, CEP’s Chief Executive and Founder, said: “This is such an important initiative and we’re proud to be a part of it, not only to help in the fight against mental health stigma through language, but also in raising awareness of the work of the ZSA, especially for the performers in our industry who are at high-risk.”

Daisy Stapley-Bunten, CEP’s Chief Operating Officer, added: “It’s important to say that the intention of this campaign isn’t to assign blame to the entertainment industry for past language used, but rather to encourage fellow agencies to follow suit and disrupt the status quo. I’m sure that together we can fight mental health stigma and we’re so honoured to be heading this initiative alongside the ZSA and Mersey Care.”

The ZSA have three training modules designed to give everyone the skills required to help those who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. The Step Up module was designed to help people adjust to the new normal following Coronavirus. The Gateway module gives a brief introduction on how to help those struggling with their mental health and takes 10 minutes to complete.

The main ZSA Suicide Awareness Training, which takes around 20 minutes to complete, provides a more comprehensive look at the methods needed to reach out to somebody who may be considering suicide.

The training modules can be accessed on the ZSA training page