Germanwings: Mental Health in the Media


So, mental health is in the news again.

I think it’s very interesting and potentially frustrating that for all the campaigning it only takes one incident for people to throw away their reasonable facade and show their true colours.

There’s been so much work in recent years to try and break the stigma and silence surrounding mental health problems, I think that, for the most part, it’s been working. There are still some pretty questionable newspaper headlines though- and the common denominator seems to be people acting in ways we don’t like.

When people commit horrible crimes we like to use things like mental illness as the excuse. It may or may not be, the truth is irrelevant, but it makes people feel better to distance themselves from the perpetrators.

I find it incredibly frustrating.

Mental illness is not a box to put people in, it’s a sliding scale. We all have mental health, some people have good mental health; others have mental health problems. We can all experience mental health problems, and we probably all will.

Tragedies happen, they can happen to any of us at any time for any reason. We like to find things like mental illness to blame, to convince ourselves that we could never do anything like that; or that something like that could ever happen to us.

To the best of my knowledge they haven’t found a real reason for the Germanwings disaster, so we have no idea what influence, if any, the mental health problems of the pilot had on the outcome. As usual the media have jumped on it and exploited it for all its worth.

Breaking down stigma can take years of hard work, but when times get tough we still use mental illness as a scapegoat. It’s beyond frustrating.

If mental illness scares you, there’s only one way to tackle it; talking about it. The more we talk, the more we offer treatment, the less likely we’ll be to see disasters (potentially) caused by mental health problems.

Shaming and stigma will only make people hide their problems away.

’til next time,

Wren x


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