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There Is No Way to Sugar Coat These Donuts

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 10 /PRNewswire/ -- After several months of protests, media coverage and online uproar, Oscar Wright, the chief executive officer of a leading statewide mental health organization, and Kipp Berdiansky, co-owner of the controversial shop Psycho Donuts, will meet face to face to discuss mental illness, the associated stigma and the shop's questionable business practices.

Owners Kipp Berdiansky and Jordan Zweigoron opened Psycho Donuts in March 2009 in Campbell, California. Inside the shop, customers experience a mock padded cell, a straitjacket, employees dressed as nurses and eclectic donuts with names such as "bipolar," "massive head trauma" and "manic malt." The "bipolar" donuts are topped with half nuts and half coconut shavings, while the "massive head trauma" features a frightened face with red jelly oozing from its side.

"Making fun of individuals with mental illness is not funny -- it's hurtful," said Oscar Wright, CEO of United Advocates for Children and Families (UACF), who seeks to end mental illness stigma and build bridges between families with mental illness and the community at large. "Psycho Donuts' use of mental health terms and concepts for commercialization sake continues to keep the stigma of mental illness alive and prevents individuals from seeking treatment."

The donut shop owners argue people should have a better sense of humor. A posting on their blog, Psycho Buzz, reads, "We might be insulting the flour inside of that very sensitive donut, but let's agree on one thing: donuts are not people; and the names of our donuts do not correspond to any opinion or pre-conceived notion about people."

Mental health advocates and individuals affected by mental illness strongly disagree.

Christine Stapleton, a staff writer for Palm Beach Post, writes in an article, "Oh really. I have bipolar. I am not amused by a doughnut called 'bipolar' with nuts on one half and coconut flakes on the other.

"Should my friend, who suffered major head trauma after a drunken driver hit him two weeks ago, enjoy the doughnut M.H.T., for massive head trauma - a doughnut with an X for each eye, a frown and a smudge of red frosting on the side of the frosted face?" writes Stapleton. "I am not laughing."

Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older - about one in four adults - suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.

Watch the controversy continue when UACF CEO Oscar Wright and Psycho Donuts' co-owner Kipp Berdiansky appear live on Channel 2, KTVU's Bay Area People on Saturday, July 25 at 6:30 a.m. and Sunday, July 26 at 9 a.m. on KCIU TV36. The show also will be available on Comcast on Demand the week after July 26.

The United Advocates for Children and Families (UACF) Institute for Family and Youth Leadership is changing the traditional mental health system from an institutional-based program to a more comprehensive, community-driven, service-delivery system. Family members and youth are empowered through strategic training to lead, coach and mentor. For more information, please visit

SOURCE United Advocates for Children and Families
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