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stigma

Victory! Cedar Fair closes FearVR Ride

Chrisa Hickey

After our calls and emails to Knott’s Berry Farm and Hollow Studios, the online petition, and posts, articles, and letters from the Orange County chapter of NAMI, Pete Earley, Ron Thomas, and Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez, Cedar Fair Entertainment, the parent company of Knott’s Berry Farm, California’s Great America, and Canada’s Wonderland Park have closed the FearVR attraction in all three parks!

Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas, shared this email he received from Knott’s Berry Farm last night:

Knott’s Berry Farm is proud of its popular annual Southern California Halloween event, Knott’s Scary Farm. For more than 40 years we have delivered unique and immersive haunted experiences to our fans and loyal guests. Our evening attractions are designed to be edgy, and are aimed at an adult-only audience. Over the past week we have heard from a number of people expressing their concern that one of our temporary, Halloween attractions – FearVR – is hurtful to those who suffer from mental illnesses . Contrary to some traditional and social media accounts, the attraction’s story and presentation were never intended to portray mental illness. As it is impossible to address both concerns and misconceptions in the Halloween time frame, at this time we have decided to close the attraction”.

Best Regards,

Public Relations | Marketing
8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park CA 90620
Office (714) 220.5130 | Fax (714) 220.5124

 

Steve Lopez of the LA Times is the reporter that wrote the book that became the movie The Soloist, about Nathanial Ayers, the amazing classical violinist he met on the streets of Los Angeles after Ayers developed schizophrenia. Let’s not forget what Steve wrote in his article  about the ride (linked above):

But another line in the email made me wonder if Knott’s was taking blame or pointing a finger: 

They knew it was about a mental institution.  As Ron Thomas was quoted in the same article, “if it waddles and quacks…”

Call me cynical, but now, we need to KEEP it closed. I fear that, after the fervor dies down now, they will quietly re-open the attraction.  I will keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, please contact Knott’s Berry Farm and Cedar Fair Entertainment and thank them for closing the ride.

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stigma

Stigma is Alive and Well at Knott’s Scary Farm

Chrisa Hickey1 comment

Knott’s Berry Farm is an amusement park in Orange County, California.  I’ve been there several times, as a child and as an adult with my kids, including Tim.  Every October they turn the park into Knott’s Scary Farm, decked out in all the finest in Halloween regalia.

This year, they announced a new virtual reality experience they have titled FearVR: 5150. From their own website, here’s the description:

Enter the Meadowbrook Institute and witness the abnormal case of a terrifyingly unusual patient named Katie…Disturbingly vivid sights and sounds invade all of your senses. Encounter the darkness that has taken over the medical staff during your fully immersive hospital stay.

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Angie’s Story – Parents Like Us Club

Chrisa Hickey2 comments

Just over two years ago I was gloriously naive. Before the police knocked on my door the morning of May 31st, 2014, there was a lot I didn’t know.

I didn’t know my daughter had a serious mental illness. Morgan had always been a quirky child. Extremely intelligent and intensely creative, people often said that she “marched to the beat of her own drum.” Although (in retrospect) there were a few red flags over the years, we were continuously reassured by her doctors and educators that Morgan was well “within the range of normal.”

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bringchange2mind
stigma

Four Reasons Why Fighting Stigma Is Important

Chrisa Hickey1 comment

There is some sentiment among advocates for persons with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that movements like Mental Health Awareness Month and fighting stigma is a waste of resources because it doesn’t help get treatment and resources to the most severely mentally ill. I disagree. I think awareness and stigma fighting are an important component in getting those people the services they desperately need.  I have four reasons why.

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Heathe Voices 2016 – Deeply Rooted Connections

Chrisa Hickey

Last year I wrote a post about attending Healthe Voices 2015 in Jersey City. It was an amazing new event hosted by Janssen Pharmaceutical and Everyday Health that brought together 60 online advocates across many different conditions to help us strengthen our advocacy work.

This year, I was honored to be asked to be on the Advisory Panel to help create Healthe Voices 2016. I, along with seven other amazing health advocates, worked with Janssen to put together the program for this year’s conference. On April 15, 2016, nearly 100 online advocates came together in my hometown of Chicago.

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Treatment Before Tragedy

Chrisa Hickey2 comments

On this ninth anniversary of the tragic loss of 33 lives at Virginia Tech, please also remember:

Seung-Hui Cho Was diagnosed with mental illness before the age of 18.

Seung-Hui Cho’s family tried to keep him in treatment after age 18, but were unable to even know if he was in treatment because of HIPAA law.

Seung-Hui Cho sought treatment on his own while a student at Virginia Tech.

Seung-Hui Cho’s Doctor tried to have him committed as an inpatient but was denied by a Virginia judge.

Call and write your congressperson. Implore them to co-sponsor HR 2646.

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healthevoices16

Advocates Are Stronger Together

Chrisa Hickey

This Friday I will be at Healthe Voices 2016 in beautiful downtown Chicago!  Healthe Voices is a weekend conference that brings patient and caregiver advocates for many different conditions together to learn how to improve our advocacy. I attended the inaugural conference last year in New York and it was amazing to meet different advocates and learn from them and from experts in many different topics.

This year I’m honored to be on the advisory counsel, helping Janssen and Everyday Health create this amazing event.  I will be tweeting throughout the weekend, live from the conference, so if you’re on Twitter, follow me here and learn along with me!

Note: While I am compensated by Janssen for my work on the conference, all my opinions and posts are my own and are not influenced by their sponsorship.

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I am Superman
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Renovation

Chrisa Hickey5 comments

I painted this stencil over the top of Tim’s closet when he was eleven years old. That was the year everything changed. Tim was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia. He attempted suicide. He had two inpatient hospitalizations. Tim has always loved Superman, and Tom has always loved REM, so this stencil was the perfect expression of what Tim loved, sung by a band his dad loved, and the sentiment I hoped he would remember.

Today, Tim and I are painting it over.

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