Phil Hill discusses the reasons why 'cute but psycho' slogans are damaging, and the action they took to challenge retailers
I've always been unhappy about the way that people use mental health disorders as adjectives. "I'm a bit OCD" and "that's depressing" are thrown about with little thought to the effect they may have. But recently there has been a rise in the use of the term 'psycho', derived from the disorder psychopathy. Often used to describe those who show signs of anger and aggression, misuse of 'pyscho' is really damaging, and gives people the wrong impression of what this disorder actually looks like.
I usually relish the opportunity to indulge is some online shopping, but back in July, I saw something that didn't sit well with me. It was a t-shirt that said, 'Cute But Psycho'.
As a mental health sufferer I immediately felt a mixture of outrage and disappointment.
Why did people think it was OK exploit mental health to make money? Why was a mental health disorder being passed as "fashion"? How could there still be such a lack of understanding of mental health that someone would design this and others would by it? And ultimately, why was mental health STILL not getting the respect it deserves?
I couldn't sit back and do nothing. So I contacted the company selling the top. This was their response:
I couldn't believe how understanding they were and to their word they removed the t-shirt from their website later that evening. Result!
I decided to make it my mission to unveil other companies selling these items and ask them to take them down. I sent multiple emails to companies including Boohoo and Missguided but always received what felt like an empty apology.
When it came to Pink Boutique, I decided to call them. During the conversation they told me they weren’t prepared to remove the products and that I had 'isolated view'. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me.I had made contact with the Huffington Post UK and was invited to do an interview about the campaign. Over the next few months I came across more companies selling variations of 'Cute But Psycho': 'Not Cute, Just Psycho' and 'Cute But Psycho, But Cute'. Each time I came across them, I challenged it and eventually I managed to get them all too either remove the products, de-list them or discontinue them.
I am lucky that throughout my campaign I've picked up a lot of support from mental health websites, newspapers, and even my local branch of Mind who asked me to be a guest speaker at their AGM earlier this year.
There are still many companies selling these products so my journey is far from over, but I will continue to stand for what I believe in and do my best to raise awareness of a subject close to my heart.
To find out more and to sign the petition, visit Phil's 38Degrees page