Advocacy or Apprehension? Donut Shop Raises Concerns Over Mental Health

A donut shop may seem like an unlikely venue for a hot debate about the rights of those with mental health difficulties and related social stigmas. After all, such eateries are usually expected to be a fun and relaxing spot to dig into a deliciously sinful treat. Of course, not all donut shops take on such a creative theme as San Francisco’s “Psycho Donuts.” The unusually named shop specializes in a range of donuts and other sweet items, aimed at creating a fun and different atmosphere by making use of a mental health institution theme. The servers are donned in lab coats and other standard clinical items, and the goodies for sale are aptly named, in keeping with the theme. The “Bipolar” donut features half nuts and half coconut; the “Manic Malt” provides sweet liquid refreshment. Though the shop may have had the best of intentions in mind when visualizing its theme, a group of mental health advocates, the Community Alliance United to Seek Equality, has taken quite a bit of offense to the idea.

Protesting in front of the shop, the group expressed anger over the use of names associated with social stigmas about mental health services and those who are treated for relevant health issues. Maintaining that the community should be educated about the reality of the topic, the group clearly disapproves of any argument for creative license. For some, the shop is clearly an indication of ignorance about mental health, while for others, the theme is a fun and casual way to grab a bite to eat, and perhaps enjoy a jab at the facts of life. Whether the protests are a valuable and appropriate response to the store or are over-concerned about a bit of culinary creativity seems to remain largely a matter of opinion.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jessica


    September 14th, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    How weird is that… I kinda like it though, very different! I can see how people could be offended though. Hopefully the shop owners are in it for the right reasons.

  • Comb


    September 14th, 2009 at 2:22 PM

    I, for one, cannot be taking sides in this argument… Seems to me that there is no right or wrong side in this case and that both are just about right in their own ways… Maybe the naming in the donut is helping people know more about the problems through their naming techniques, but then again it may be creating problems, as advocated by the group. If there is a case file regarding this issue, it is going to be very tough to decide for the judiciary as to whether the donut shop is just using its freedom or is actually causing damage…

  • Grade


    September 14th, 2009 at 2:31 PM

    This is the perfect way to mock at people who are not perfect and I totally back the protest by the Community Alliance United to Seek Equality.

    The donut shop has no right to do something like this. It is hard to imagine a menu that consists of words associated with various health problems… if its not mocking at people with such conditions, then what is it…? This must be stopped at the earliest by the concerned authorities. After all, a” person’s right ends where another person’s begins.”

  • Hollis


    September 15th, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    Although I can see how this might offend I think that in all honesty the donut shop was just trying to be humorous and unintentionally has stepped on some toes. Personally I think that there are greater insults out there to be worried about these days, but hey. I am just one voice.

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