Stop the stigmaRecent events have highlighted so clearly the need for better education on mental health to change individual acceptance and societies’ perceptions of mental ill health and stop the stigma around depression.

Tragically, the Germanwings passenger flight, which left Barcelona Airport on 25 March 2015, crashed in the French Alps with 150 people on board. There have been no survivors.

We are deeply saddened by this event and send our deepest sympathies to all of those who have been affected. We also sympathise with those who battle with depression every day and feel that their condition has been misrepresented by the media’s reaction.

As soon as the co-pilot involved was identified, the media wanted to place blame, and due to the discovery of sick notes in Andreas Lubitz’s home, speculation was cast over his mental stability. Unfortunately, the media’s fixation on this prompted damaging headlines including The Daily Mail’s ‘Why on earth was he allowed to fly’, and The Sun’s ‘Madman in cockpit’. Headlines like these, in national newspapers, prove how much further there is to go in reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health and removing absurd connotations. The fantastic work that charities such as Time to Change, Mind and Rethink do to address the mental health taboo is counteracted by such headlines which wrongly portray people who suffer from depression as ‘dangers to the public’.

A huge part of the issue with depression, and many other mental health illnesses, is that it isn't openly discussed and those suffering from it aren't comfortable speaking to employers, colleagues, friends or even family members. However, with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem in any given year (most commonly depression and anxiety) it is a matter that will affect us all either directly or indirectly, and should therefore be better understood. We believe that early intervention in school and discussions with young people about mental health and the derogatory language which is often so freely used that connotes someone with a mental illness, as well as and training throughout workplaces can help to reduce stigma around mental health. Understanding also helps our society to become more compassionate and avoid the insensitive headlines and tweets that we have witnessed in the past week.

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