Update: Wed 16th Aug – This issue is now resolved. Please review this post for updated comment.
In a week when WHSmith announce they are working to deliver a comprehensive mental health well-being strategy that will not only raise awareness of mental health issues and address the stigma surrounding them, another national chain, The Range, have chosen to take the opposite direction. The Range have chosen to sell and profit from products which increase stigma around mental health, with these two ‘I have OCD’ metal wall art plaques.
The Range sparked widespread criticism from our followers last week when it came to light after one of our eagle eyed Twitter followers Prozac&Nooch spotted the inappropriate wall art whilst browsing their local store, many felt the two products trivialised the severity of OCD .
Those suffering with OCD are all too frequently victims of retailers like The Range profiting from the selling of items which mock and misuse the OCD acronym, often leaving people with OCD feeling stigmatised and feeling that these products reinforce the negative perceptions that drive this constant cycle of trivialisation of OCD.
Our own spokesperson, Ashley Fulwood, commented “Every time somebody misuses the OCD acronym for a ‘joke’, a little part of an OCD sufferer dies inside, the stigma that the ‘joke’ creates can be life-limiting, because people suffering with OCD close down and are left feeling they can’t talk to anybody.”
Despite OCD-UK reaching out to the The Range, a representative of the company dismissed the concerns by suggesting that ‘these products are meant to be humorous novelty items.‘
OCD-UK’s Chief Executive, Ashley Fulwood commented, “The Range failed to realise that people with OCD ‘suffer’, so to describe these OCD items as humorous and novelty items is extremely misguided and frankly is staggeringly offensive, and I would go further to suggest it is an utterly contemptible comment. They have crossed a line here with these products, the fact someone signed off on these at The Range is disappointing, their subsequent dismissal is offensive. I reached out to them in the hope we could engage them in dialogue so they could choose to be part of the solution and take a proactive stance against mental health stigma, but instead they have chosen to be part of the problem”.
OCD-UK attempted to discuss the issue with The Range, and requested a meeting with senior executives, but our attempts were effectively dismissed and we were informed that the staff will not enter into any further communication with the charity. We have subsequently written directly to the chain’s chief executive, Mr Oddy.
There is a huge difference between someone with OCD finding humour in their own situation occasionally, and products which trivialise and stigmatise the suffering that OCD causes, and because of that OCD-UK urge a united front in challenging The Range over this issue. We’re not asking for anything special, just respect for the suffering that OCD causes and not to create further problems for people with OCD beyond the illness itself. We call on retailers like The Range to be part of the solution, not the problem.
The Range’s decision to sell these items, and subsequent dismissal of concerns have fuelled widespread frustration and people have taken to social media to voice their outrage about the incident. These are some of those comments expressed to The Range via Twitter:
Where is the joke in OCD? I’m one of your customers @TheRangeUK and I promise you there really isn’t a joke. Also mocking mental illness
— Jonathan Warren (@JonathanWarren5) August 11, 2017
OCD ruined many years of my life – unbearable anxiety, suicide attempts and a psychiatric stay – not too funny……… https://t.co/cDHfZicUu9
— penny foster (@whitebeam13) August 14, 2017
Is not even just an issue of offence, it’s an issue of not taking MH seriously and perpetuating harmfully misguided attitudes.
— Barry Charleton (@bazcharleton) August 14, 2017
Sadly we live in a society where mental illness is not taken as seriously as physical illness. Stlll a long way to go….
— Steve Maggs (@SteveMaggs) August 14, 2017
— Sarah (@SJR105) August 8, 2017
— Catherine Benfield (@TamingOlivia) August 11, 2017
— Mostly me these days (@MostlyMeNotOCD) August 12, 2017
— Prozac&Nooch (@prozacandnooch) July 30, 2017
— Ashley Fulwood (@AshleyFulwood) August 11, 2017