Company agrees to revise controversial Leeds ‘Asylum’ escape game after backlash over mental health stigma

Revised: Chief executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan, who met with game organisers.
Revised: Chief executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan, who met with game organisers.
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The company behind a controversial escape game that prompted a backlash from NHS chiefs and mental health campaigners because of its associations with a fictional “asylum” has now agreed to rethink its marketing.

The Asylum escape game, based in Leeds, faced criticism on last week over its “disregard” for mental health stigma by having a doctor chase around ‘patients’ in the fake asylum.

But after a meeting with senior decision-makers in the city, The Great Escape Game now says it will revise the controversial game. In a statement, the firm said: “We have changed the name of our newest escape game to ‘Abducted’. We are also in the process of developing the game to ensure that it has no connection to mental health.”

It comes after bosses met with chief executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, Leeds Mind boss Helen Kemp and Dr Sara Munro, chief executive of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The firm last week apologised for any offence caused by the game, in which participants could explore “an abandoned asylum” after a doctor has been “abducting trespassers and performing experiments on his victims”.
Dr Munro last week said the game had upset hospital staff and patients.

The YEP has been calling on people and businesses across the city to help break down the damaging social stigma surrounding mental health issues as part of our #SpeakYourMind campaign.

The campaign, backed by Prince Harry and William and the Prime Minister, launched in October.
Mr Riordan was among a series of high-profile people in Leeds who shared their own past experiences with mental health to help us raise awareness.