Mental Health charities have called on the media to be sensitive in its ongoing commentary over the tragic Germanwings flight in March.
After it was revealed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had suffered a severe depressive episode in 2009 and been signed off work on the day of the doomed flight, the media was quick to stigmatise mental illness.
In the statement, the directors and chief executives of Mind, Time to Change and Rethink Mental Illness said, ‘The terrible loss of life in the Germanwings plane crash is tragic, and we send our deepest sympathies to the families.
‘While the full facts are still emerging, there has been widespread media reporting speculating about the link with the pilot’s history of depression, which has been overly simplistic.
‘Clearly, assessment of all pilots’ physical and mental health is entirely appropriate, but assumptions about risk shouldn’t be made across the board for people with depression, or any other illness. There will be pilots with experience of depression who have flown safely for decades, and assessments should be made case by case’.
Mind warned that the headlines were serving to add to the stigma surrounding mental health problems.
150 people died on the plane, which crashed into the Alps. According to Germany’s Bild newspaper, Lubitz’s former girlfriend told reporters that he had predicted ‘one day everyone will know my name’. The investigations are still ongoing.