UK
27/03/2015 10:00 GMT | Updated 27/03/2015 10:59 GMT

Andreas Lubitz 'Depression' Headlines Slammed By Mental Health Charities As 'Simplistic'

Newspaper headlines have been called "shameful" and "awful" for stigmatising people with depression in the coverage of Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed an Airbus A320 killing everyone on board.

As it emerged that Lubitz may have had a history of depression, headlines from some of Britain's newspapers called him "crazed" and a "madman" and asked "Why on earth was he allowed to fly?"

Mental health charities called out the "overly simplistic" portrayal of depression and the implication that it could cause someone to be a murderer, or disqualify them from working.

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Some people with depression mocked the Daily Mail, which implied that Lubitz should not have had his job if he suffered from depression.

Twitter users asked the newspaper to check whether they were "allowed" to drive, or even make a cup of tea:

In a joint statement, Paul Farmer, the chief executive of Mind; Mark Winstanley the head of Rethink Mental Illness, and Sue Baker, the director of the Time to Change campaign, said the front pages risked "adding to the stigma surrounding mental health problems."

“The terrible loss of life in the Germanwings plane crash is tragic, and we send our deepest sympathies to the families," they said.

"Whilst 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 on a case by case basis.

"Today’s headlines risk adding to the stigma surrounding mental health problems, which millions of people experience each year, and we would encourage the media to report this issue responsibly.”

A spokesperson for Mind told The Huffington Post UK that this applied to almost all of Friday's newspaper headlines, not just the tabloids.

Other online commenters claimed that this kind of media coverage could discourage those with mental health issues - which one in four people will experience during their lives - from talking about their experience.

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Others people pointed out that those with depression are able to have jobs, and to function normally in society, without killing hundreds of people.

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