Stigma of mental illness

Mental illness and the issues surrounding it have been in the news a lot recently following the Germanwings plane crash. I’m not going to focus on it too much, but I think it’s worth reading this article by The Guardian – one individual, isolated, unpredictable and tragic event does not mean the world’s opinion on mental illness should change; and unfortunately some of the comments following recent articles about the incident would suggest it has.

Anybody that has been deemed fit to work should be able to do so no matter their illness, disability – or whatever else. Don’t quote this statistic because it’s entirely made up, but I’m guessing at least 99.999999999% of people with a history of mental illness don’t mass murder. If not more.

Every single day I get comments on my posts and numerous emails from people explaining their illnesses and asking for advice, coping mechanisms or just a general chat because let’s face it – living with this crap inside our heads is almost impossible. I have spoken to hundreds of people who suffer with some form of mental health problem – depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD, BPD, OCD… and they all have as much of a right to be ‘normal’ as the next person. They all have as much of a right to work.

And yes, not every job has as much responsibility over so many people as does the job of a pilot, but realistically in every walk of life somebody who is deemed mentally ill (or not, in fact!) could end your life. All we can do is hope that we’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s no doubt a massive tragedy, and my thoughts go out to every single victim on and off that plane (and yes, this includes Lubitz’s family who must be mortified and inconsolable by learning the truth of what happened mid-grief) – but we’ve come to far and evolved too much to go back to thinking that the mentally ill are dangerous and unsuitable for work.

We’ve come too far to listen to idiotic, insensitive and downright wrong comments such as this one from Katie Hopkins yesterday; who as per usual is still purposely trying to gage a reaction to hold onto her ever-so fragile career.


Stigma is not OK.

1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health illness. By my calculations of what Google deems the world population to be – that’s one billion, seven hundred and fifty million people who suffer around the world. One isolated case should not be enough to change your opinion.


17 thoughts on “Stigma of mental illness

  1. laurabedlam says:

    That tweet makes me sick. I really hate how, as a society, we become fixated on mental illness AFTER a catastrophe (school shootings come to mind). And then we forget about it as soon as a celebrity has a baby or a politician makes a wacky public remark. I think people get that tragedies that are rooted in mental illness are preventable, but most seem unwilling to devote enough focus to actually prevent them. Thanks for this! -LB

    Liked by 2 people

  2. emovoid says:

    I’m an optimist, so my take is that no-one is as stupid and insensitive as Katie Hopkins appears from her comments. My guess is the same as yours – the remarks are a desperate and self-serving attempt to steer a conversation that has nothing to do with her onto her. I try to refrain from feeding trolls, so the final thing I’ll say on the subject is that I wouldn’t want to do business with someone like that, nor would I want to employ her in any company I owned. The PR risk is too high.

    The tabloid headlines following the Germanwings crash were appalling, but I take some comfort from the fact that there was a considerable backlash, not just from mental health advocates but from the mainstream media. The Guardian article you mentioned was a good example, but there were others.

    I wrote a blog post of my own on the subject; please check it out if you get the chance.


  3. irenedesign2011 says:

    The stigma is living very well all over the world, unfortunately. In many countries you still don’t say anything about your mental illness, it seems to be embarrassing for even families to be something that you talk about.
    Even we are many who suffer in one or another way, we know only few we can talk with about this. Otherwise we will get a label as not are wish able. Great post 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Percy L. Paul says:

    again, pretty people repeating things about depression get a lot of slack. Just wait until another “event” and same thing happens. Media is repetitive and gets boring. I read your post with the thought that I read this sort of thing many times before. I know the stigma and it is boring to talk about for me anyways. I whined.


  5. Josh Wrenn says:

    Very much appreciating you posting this. There is a huge difference between being mentally ill and evil, and the vast majority of people with a mental illness are not, and never will be. And if funding care hadn’t have been gutted, when someone’s illness does carry them down the road to where they have thoughts that become evil, more tragedies could be prevented. Also, plenty of evil people are out there with no mental illness.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. sappyscull says:

    I completely agree with you, Ironically, the media attention and viewpoints on the one incident will make it even harder to speak out if you’re suffering, which potentially will just make it more likely for similar incidents to happen in future.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Melancholic Madness says:

    Katie Hopkins is just an attention-hungry bigot, I don’t even pay much attention to what she says anymore; it’s not worth arguing with her ignorance. (Let’s hope that Labour wins the General Election so she leaves the country like she pledged!)

    I think some jobs are better suited to you and some aren’t the best option, depending on your mental illness. Maybe a pilot wasn’t the safest bet, but I’m fairly sure that depression isn’t where we should point the finger of blame. I think psychopathic tendencies or some sort of psychotic illness was also part of the problem. Even if someone was so desperate to end their life, taking 149 others’ with you does not suggest that he was purely depressed.

    But of course, society is going to blame the whole “group” of depressives, judging us based on him. This is unfair, as I hate the idea of hurting someone else; emotionally and physically. Although I have suicidal thoughts, I would never dream of putting someone’s life in danger just so I could end mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lifeofmiblog says:

    Great post Lauren. I think it is sad that ‘stigma’ even has to be mentioned. I hate that it is so bad that so many sufferers will refuse to accept that they need help or that they even have an illness. Why isn’t there a process to deal with such people? Why does the general populous stand for this? If such comments were made about gays or were racist, what kind of flashback would there be?
    Don’t worry, I’m just old and grumpy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. the Prodigal Orphan says:

    Would that by any chance be THIS Katie Hopkins?

    Or this one?

    Or how about…
    Katie shouldn’t have much of a problem with these guys. They’re all at least as educated and experienced in the field of Behavioral Sciences as she is.
    One could presume.

    Or then there’s this:

    If this twit (I believe I misspelled that), or if ANYbody has ever cried uncontrollably over the Denver Broncos or Manchester United losing a close game, or couldn’t stop mourning their favorite character on “Downton Abbey” or lose sleep because their less-than-flattering selfies don’t make them look like Kate, the Duchess of Wherever…
    then they should be able to stretch whatever worthless imagination they have and understand what it might be like to live under a raging thunderhead from the time they lift their head off the pillow to the moment they’re actually able to rest in back on there again.
    We all experience the same feelings, often for the same reasons.
    It’s all just a matter of degrees.

    As for her tweet (I might have spelled that incorrectly too), we have a saying over here in the Colonies, one that pretty much sums her problem up perfectly:
    can’t understand normal thinking.
    And I did spell that correctly.

    And she thinks WE have problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. prideinmadness says:

    It’s been interesting following the Germanwings story because the mental health card is being pulled. When you look at this from a race perspective, would mental health be discussed if the pilot was a person of colour?


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