My Big Mouth: Stigma needs to stop!

You can’t fail to have noticed the coverage over the last few days about the terrible end to the Germanwings flight, with reports stating that the co pilot deliberately crashed the plane to attempt suicide. This is a terrible tragedy with so many lives lost, however, that is not what has chilled me the most.

The pilot, it is reported, had mental health issues. I am not in any way justifying what he did by killing all those people who did not want or deserve to die, but if he was this depressed who knows what was going through his head. With this in mind I need to stress that the British media in particular are handling this information in a disgusting and shocking way. With papers calling him a ‘mad man’ and asking questions such as ‘why was he allowed to fly?’ many mental health sufferers will have felt a familiar sense of dread.

It’s easy, when people are angry, to have knee jerk reactions but when almost all of the press are taking the same angle it is terrifying. I know that in this country in the next few weeks anyone who declares a mental health problem is going to be scrutinised more now, due to the way in which this has been handled by the media. It’s a terrible case and I don’t think we’ll ever know why he did what he did. Like everyone else I am shocked and angry that he took all of those other people with him, including children.

I do have something to say though. I have mental health issues, I write about them each and every day. Events like this fill me with fear because of how other people judge people with mental health problems. While most people understand that we are just like anybody else, others can’t seem to grasp the concept that we are just like everybody else!!!! I’ve had depression for more than a quarter of my life now and guess what? I don’t want to hurt anyone, I don’t want to be violent towards anyone and if I ever feel angry or anything like that I am the one I direct it to. Yes I might snap at people if I’m angry but this idea that people with mental health issues (that’s around 1 in 4 of us by the way) want to attack and hurt others is wrong and so, so rare. We are not going to get anywhere as a society until we start trying to stamp out this stigma! With the press saying ‘mad man’ and such we’re moving backwards.

I have to say though, the amount of people who have come forward to say that they are depressed and still working, still strong has been incredible to see. The BBC I can do nothing but applaud for their coverage of the crash, and now investigation. We cannot let one individual shape a quarter of our society! I for one won’t let that happen. So many incredible people I know have or have had a mental health issue, but they’re getting there. It might take a little longer or a different route but the world wouldn’t be what it is today if everyone with an issue was locked away and forbidden to work.

People are only going to be scared of mental health while they live in ignorance, education really is the key here.

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