Beano is getting flack for stigmatizing people with mental health problems

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Some mental health campaigners are outraged that a new character in the Beano comic is stigmatizing children with mental health problems.

Simon Coe or ‘Si Co’ (psycho) suffers from violent mood swings and from an involuntary Tourette like condition. Simon is shunned by his classmates.

In the comic strip Si Co throws a boy into a rubbish bin after he sees him drop litter on the street, and he also kicks the door of a newsagent after his comic wasn’t delivered on time.

The comic strip seems to be suggesting that Si Co’s condition is inherited as you can also see Simon’s mum trashing the kitchen and throwing a plate of food into Simon’s face when he forgets to say please. There’s also a family photo of a screaming man with the caption “Calm Uncle Clive”.

Every time Simon has an outburst the other kids start running and shout “uh oh! Si Co!”

Mental health organisations are worried that kids might think its ok to bully children with behaviour problems.

The situation really came to light after the News of the World ran a story on it. Suzie Vestri of campaign group ‘See Me’ told the Sunday Newspaper “We’re very disappointed to see such a popular children’s comic insinuating that it’s OK to mock or poke fun at children with behavioural problems”.

“Our campaign has worked hard to combat stigmatising name calling and this story sends out the wrong message that it’s okay to make fun of people with mental problems” she said.

Lucie Russell of YoungMinds charity told the News of the World “The message appears to be that behavioural and mental health problems are funny and that those who have them are psychos.”

The Sunday tabloid also quotes Marjorie Wallace of the mental health charity SANE as saying “Laughing at people who behave in a strange way which is not their fault, may cause incredible hurt.”

And there’s even a quote from Green MSP Robin Harper, who is Vice Convenor of Holyrood’s Mental Health Group.

“This could leave a generation of young people – including those with real mental health problems – stigmatised as ‘Si Cos’, I urge the Beano to think again” he said.

In defence of the comic and their latest character Simon Coe, a Beano spokesman said “he is just a guy who over-reacts dramatically to the annoyances in life that niggle us all.”

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