Opinion: Don’t take your date to an asylum for Valentine’s Day

By Tom Watkins and Jim Haveman: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Asylums that “treated” individuals with mental illness have been a horror show for far too many people throughout our history. It should not become a spooky entertainment venue. Making a profit off human misery is cruel, immoral and inexcusable, but that is exactly what is being done by turning the former Eloise psychiatric hospital into a haunted house. The website for the Valentine Haunt for Valentine’s Day is very disturbing.

Equally offensive are the electronic, print and social media outlets that are helping to promote this for-profit venture. It is time to stop legitimizing this perverse “entertainment” that is incredibly hurtful to so many.

For those who have had family members and friends who receive treatment in a psychiatric hospital, such disregard and insensitivity for human suffering is downright inhuman and offensive.

We can’t imagine people thinking it would be “entertainment” to turn a former cancer treatment center into a haunted house. Getting laughs from watching cancer patients suffer in pain and fear is savage.

As two individuals who were responsible for leading Michigan’s mental health system, we find this “entertainment” offensive, ghoulish and insulting.

Mental illness impacts every ZIP code. It is an equal opportunity disease. Mental illness does not impact “those” people. It is not simply a statistic to recite. It affects our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.

It’s been reported that Eloise Asylum says guests can purchase snacks upon entry and mingle with “monsters” in the lounge while music plays. For those looking for a more intimate frightening experience, you can spend more on a “VIP offering,” according to Eloise Asylum. The VIP experience gives guests access to “specialty areas and experiences” including a paranormal tour of the fifth floor and the hydrotherapy room. They even offer for a price an “escape room” experience.

Since when is having fun and being entertained based on another person’s treatment at Eloise acceptable moral behavior?

Sadly, far too many in our community find this acceptable as the Valentine shows appear to be sold out.According to U.S. Surgeon General General Vivek Murthy, there is a mental health crisis in America, and it is characterized by high rates of depression, anxiety, drug use and suicide.

Stigma kills.

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