Media portrayal of mental health stigma after the Germanwings plane crash
MEDIA PORTRAYAL OF MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA AFTER THE GERMANWINGS PLANE CRASH
TABLE OF CONTENTS
abstract4Introduction5Background5Statement of the Problem6Research Rationale10Research Objectives, Research Scope & Questions10Definition of terms11Procedure12Significance and Limitations of the Study13Dissertation Outline13Chapter Summary14RESEARCH METHODOLOGY152.1approach152.2data162.3review DESIGN172.4SAMPLING172.5materials172.6PROCEDURE202.7DATA ANALSIS212.8ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS22 results and result Analysis233.1newspapers analysis233.1.1the daily mail233.1.2the telegraph243.1.3the guardian253.1.4the sun263.1.5the daily mirror273.6articles analysis28discussion.395.1stigma of the mental health395.2protection425.3Family perspectives on mental health stigma443.6limitations46references47Abstract
A lot of literature has been documented on the mental health issues indicating that thousands of the people across the world suffer mental related problems. Majority of these publications reveal how people with mental disorders struggle with the symptoms attached to the illness, the stereotypes and prejudice they receive from the society. The discrimination and the prejudice that the mental health population receives as a result of the negative attitude of the society is what contributes to their stigma. This paper examines the top five newspapers in the United Kingdom and how they reported the events after the Germanwings plane crash. The focus of the papers turns on their reporting on the investigations which followed the plane crash and how this reporting portrayed the stigma of mental health. The method of the literature review of the five newspapers involves the thematic analysis to identify the various themes which were significant in understanding the theory of stigma. The themes extracted include the protection, the family perspectives and the stigma of the mental health. The discussion part examines these themes into details as presented in the newspapers and other literature.
Keywords: stigma, mental health, literature review, psychological, illness, society etc.
March 24, 2015, plane crash received global media coverage with the concerns of a limitation regarding the management of stigma associated with mental illness. The basic assumption is that the media coverage on the attitudes linked with mental health has greatly impacted the public perception. Also, the alleged murder-suicide by the co-pilot that resulted in the death of 150 individual, all passengers and crew members, was associated with a long period of depression. The association is viewed to elevate anger, fear and the need for social distance from individuals perceived to suffer from mental issues.
BackgroundGoulden et al. (2011) explain that in the past few years, several attempts have been made to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness. The associated notion is that the media plays a significant role in spreading the stigma. The ideology is that the media is highly implicated when it comes to the stigmatizing opinions that the public has against individuals suffering from mental issues. The stigma subjected to the individuals is described as stereotypical negative ideologies and behaviour that individuals with mental illness experience from the public (Link 2001, 363). The stereotypical opinions held by the public is that such people are unpredictable, strange, incurable and dangerous. According to Goulden et al. (2011), “The extensive literature on media coverage of mental illness points to its frequent use of such ideas.” Most of the studies regarding the media and its impact on stigmatization illustrate that there exists a correlation or rather a causal relationship between the prejudicial perspectives and attitudes and negative media coverage (Dietrich et al. 2006, pg. 318). To comprehensively understand the relationship, the analysis focuses on the media coverage of the Germanwings plane crash and the public response concerning individuals with mental health issues particularly because of the co-pilot responsible for the tragic incidence suffered from severe depression.
1.2. Statement of the ProblemIt is perceived that in the United Kingdom, there have been significant efforts employed over the past two decades on challenging the misunderstanding and stigma projected to people with mental health issues (Pescosolido et al. 2008, pg. 432). Some of the popular campaigns as highlighted by Goulden et al. (2011) include ‘Defeat Depression’ that ran from 1992 to 1997 and ‘Changing Minds’ that began in 1998 and functioned till 2003. The focus of the campaigns was to influence the media for it to have a lenient approach when covering tragic news linked to people with mental problems. Be that as it may, despite the campaigns, longitudinal analyses reported no changes or improvement in the negative perception held by the public (Goulden et al. 2011). However, a study by Rüsch et al. (2005, pg, 529) indicates that the level of stigma varies depending on the mental disability. Individuals with schizophrenia and other forms of psychotic problems experience immense stigmatization when compared to those suffering from depression and anxiety (Angermeyer & Matschinger, 2003, pg. 527). Overton and Medina (2008, pg. 143) align with the view that individuals suffering mental illness tend to be the most stigmatized and discriminated. The false and negative connotations affiliated with mental issues are viewed as harmful similarly to the mental illnesses. The impact of the stigmatization is that it limits the available opportunities regarding social development for people with mental issues (Overton & Medina 2008, pg. 143).
Pugh et al. (2015, pg. 1) highlight structural stigmatization which is viewed as the injustices and inequalities present in social organizations which limit the freedom and interaction of a particular population. Structural stigmatization which is associated with mental illnesses is viewed as the most recognized barrier regarding the welfare of individuals with mental issues. The associated viewpoint is that people suffering from mental issues experience discrimination throughout their lives including areas such as housing, and job opportunities. It is perceived that the discrimination mostly occurs from an interpersonal perspective rather than structural. Pugh et al. (2015, pg.1) state, “Structural stigma may contribute to or interact with interpersonal stigma, as well as operate independently of interpersonal stigma. The media coverage of cases affiliated with individuals with mental issues can be viewed as structural whereby through the stigmatizing perspectives; they enable interpersonal stigma when the public receives the news and hence resulting in stereotypic views.
In brief, Andreas Lubitz, who was the co-pilot of the Germanwings aircraft, was alleged to have locked himself in the cockpit with the intention of destroying the entire plane (Griffin 2015, pg.1). According to the prosecutor from France, the act of plane crash was a sign of terrorism which was purposeful. According to the study by Sternberg et al. (2018, pg. 100), the Bureau d’Enquetes et analyses reports showed that he was not fit to fly because he regularly forgot what he was doing. The director of the aircraft company outlined that the recommendations from the report talked about the weaknesses that the security which was in place had. The security did not respond promptly to the suggestion that had been made regarding the protection of the cockpit against being accessed from the cabin (Stieglitz et al. 2017, pp. 5). However, the security defended itself that the matter of committing suicide could not be prevented on certain grounds. Tension and arguments arose between the company’s management and the security regarding the responsibility of who was to take control of the pilot’s health status. The initial medical reports demonstrated that Lubitz had suffered from a thorough depression dilemma without exhibiting any signs. The media insisted that on August in the year 2008, Lubitz had tempted to commit suicide on several occasions (Schomerus et al. 362). After seven years, Lubitz was directed to psychotherapists to get further attention after he had been dragonized with the anxiety discomforts. On the ninth of March in the year 2015, a different medical practitioner asked Lubitz to take a certificate of sick leave so that he could get sufficient rest at home. Although the doctor gave out a nineteen-day sick rest certificate, it did not reach the Germanwings department. Therefore, the inadequate personal health information in the Germanwings firm did not give the company a clear outline regarding the health status of this co-pilot (Schomerus et al. 362). However, despite the efforts which were made by the media as well as the company on the Lubitz’s family, there was not an appropriate answer that was given because the family practiced their right of not engaging in the interview.
From a general perspective, the media portrayal of depression after the Germanwings demonstrated that Lubitz was still undertaking the medication for the mental stress. Furthermore, the families who were the victims of the circumstance went in the Court of law to sue the United States school that offered pilot knowledge and skill at Arizona for not carrying out proper screening on some individuals (Sue et al. 2015, pg. 40). According to media sources, the case was filed in the District Court of the United States of America at Phoenix. The laws of those who were victims of the strategic scenario claimed that the co-pilot set the plane to encounter a collision at the Alps Mountain by intentional thoughts. Andreas Lubitz was referred to as the suicidal time bomb as a result of his inhuman act. The Daily Mirror covered headlines such as Killer Pilot suffered from Depression. The Sun, as well as the Daily Mail, had disheartening headlines which depicted sorrow to the entire World. Different people understood the information in a different angle basing on how the media had transmitted it. Lufthansa had confirmed that at the time Lubitz was training at Arizona, there had been a brief interruption in his training due to mental illness which destabilized him (Torjesen 2015, pg. 1874). This was six years before the worst happened. The craft specialists stated that the type of the interruption Lubitz encountered at the training school was not common. The situation indicated that something fishy was taking place.
On the Daily Mail, the story was not much different from the other papers. The difference was seen in the language which was used to deliver the information. The mail referee to the pilot as a “madman” the paper had several questions as to whether individuals who have mental disease can be allowed to take flights (Whitley et al. 2017, pg. 279). The paper did not see a reality between the historical depression and the tragic event which had just occurred. According to the paper, this was just but an awkward scenario was meant to be imagined rather than taking it as a fact. Apart from the information regarding the air crash spreading quickly over the papers, Facebook and Twitter also played a major role in highlighting on whatever had happened by the mischievous pilot. The twitter handle outlined that Lubitz did not respond to several calls which were made from the civilians as well as the military that controlled the aircraft (Murphy 2016, pg.19). Furthermore, communications were made from the personnel of other planes but Lubitz gave them a deaf ear. There were also many signals which came from the door and the calls from cabin. Patrick Sondheimer, a plane worker, requested Lubitz to open the emergency exit but all was in vain. From the report which was found out, Lubitz was alone at the Barcelona’s controls to start the flight thirty minutes after nine o’clock but he took off earlier. This act of defiance demonstrated some defiance in the job. Additionally, the media stated that the pilot lacked accountability while he was accomplishing his duty. A study carried out by Schomerus et al. (2015, pg. 362) showed that the plan crash immensely affected the attitudes that people have on individuals with mental issues regarding the media.
1.3. Research RationaleStudies done on the media reporting criminal activities perpetrated by individuals with mental issues indicate that the reports may result in the development of negative attitudes against individuals perceived as mentally unstable (Knesebeck et al. 2015, pg. 263). From the population studies carried out in Germany between 1990 and 1991 regarding violent attacks to subject to politicians by individuals who were mentally unstable shows an increase in the level of stigmatization after the incidences (Knesebeck et al. 2015, pg. 263). A study carried by McGinty et al. (2013, pg. 494) in the U.S. showed that news reports regarding mass shootings elevated the public’s negative attitudes towards individuals with mental issues. The same case applies to films and articles that associate criminal activities with mental illness whereby individuals also develop a negative attitude towards people with mental issues after viewing them. Knesebeck et al. (2015, pg. 263) explain that the intense and wide coverage of the Germanwings plane crash by the media, put much focus on the mental health of the pilot. The scholars state, “Reporting was accused of being unfair, speculative and generalized and it was expected that the reporting would have a negative impact on depression stigma,” (Knesebeck et al. 2015, pg. 263). The basic assumption is that media coverage may negatively affect the attitudes of the public on people with mental health issues (Knesebeck et al. 2015, pg. 263). Therefore, it becomes important to focus the study on whether March 24, 2015, plane crash influenced the stigma beliefs subjected to individuals with mental illness as per the illustration by the media.
1.4. Research Objectives, Research Scope & QuestionsThe main objective of the paper is to determine whether March 24, 2015, plane crash influenced the stigma beliefs subjected to individuals with mental illness. More specifically, it will analyze the reports presented by five top newspapers in the United Kingdom and the public’s perception at the time of the event. The focus will be on the media and its coverage of the Germanwings plane crash regarding the perception subjected to people with mental health issues. Therefore, the research questions that the paper focuses on include;
How did each newspaper report the incident?
How did each newspaper approach the presumed mental condition of the pilot?
How did each newspaper connect the incidence with issues regarding mental health?
Does the information in the newspapers exhibit the capacity to influence the attitude of the audience regarding individuals with mental health?
What is the basic assumption highlighted by each newspaper?
Did March 24, 2015, plane crash influence the stigma beliefs subjected to individuals with mental illness in the U.K. as per the depiction of the issue by the media?
How does the public perceive individuals with mental illness?
1.5. Definition of termsThe significant terms associated with the study include stigma, media, and mental illness. Stigma can be described as an act of disgrace subjected to an individual due to a certain quality or trait. It involves being discriminated and even feared because of a particular perspective. Mental illness is a broad term as it is associated with various forms of mental cases. Nonetheless, it puts into view either biological, behavioural or psychological dysfunction in either behaviour. The media, on the other hand, refers to any platform used to convey information to the public. Some of the common platforms include social media sites, television, radio, magazines, and newspapers. With that the media involved in the analysis involves newspapers.
1.6. ProcedureThe procedure will involve performing content analysis on a sample of 5 top UK newspaper and conduct a literature review of studies related to the issue of focus. The newspapers were selected on the fact that they are the top national newspapers as per the 2017 statistical analysis. They include:
1. Daily Telegraph.
2. The Observer.
3. The Sunday Mirror.
4. The Sunday Express.
5. The Daily Star Sunday.
The content analysis will involve forty reports as illustrated by the five newspapers such that a deeper understanding of the impact of the media when it comes to stigma subjected to individuals with mental issues. The idea is to analyse their presentation of the relationship between mental capacity and the instigation of a crime concerning the Germanwings plane crash. Some of the questions to consider in the content analysis include; how did the newspaper report the incidence? How did the newspaper approach the presumed mental condition of the pilot? How did the newspaper connect the incidence with issues regarding mental health? Does the information in the newspaper exhibit the capacity to influence the attitude of the audience regarding individuals with mental health? What is the basic assumption highlighted by the newspaper? The literature review will focus on the concept of stigma regarding how various scholars have addressed the stigma projected to individuals with mental issues not necessarily focusing on the place crash but also other incidents committed by individuals presumed to exhibit mental issues. The incidences will range from mass shootings, homicides, suicides and so forth. The idea is to comprehend the factors that influence the public to develop negative attitudes towards the individual with mental issues during tragic events.
1.7. Significance and Limitations of the StudyThe significance of the study is that it broadens the scope affiliated with the view that media coverage may negatively affect the attitudes of the public on people with mental health issues. As mentioned earlier, the main objective of the paper is to determine whether March 24, 2015, plane crash influenced the stigma beliefs subjected to individuals with mental illness. The limitation of the study is that it only includes information from the five newspapers and limits itself to the literature review regarding comprehending scholarly studies affiliated to the research topic. It may also be difficult to assess the bias present in the newspapers regarding the incident as most newspapers tend to include aspects that appeal to the audience. Be that as it may, the focus of the paper is to comprehend the relationship between media coverage and the stigma experienced by people perceived to suffer from mental issues during tragic events. 1.8. Dissertation OutlineTo answer the research questions, the paper will abide by the following structure: Chapter (2) will include the content analysis and literature review on the related studies regarding the portrayal of the media of depression after the German Wings. The chapter will also include the study’s hypothesis which will be experimented on in chapter 3. The chapter will also include how data was obtained in addition to the research methodology. Chapter 4 will entail a comprehensive analysis of the results of the analysis in addition to discussing the findings. Chapters 5 and chapter 6 will include practical effects and the basic conclusion.
1.9. Chapter SummaryThe chapter sets the foundation for the entire study whereby it includes the introduction, background and overview of the incident. It defines the significant terms and indicates the rationale for the study and the associated procedures. It also highlights the research questions, the significance of the study in addition to laying out the paper’s outline.
The method refers to the various ways the reviewers used to carry out the literature review of the documented sources to help in addressing the question of my study. The focus of the research was to identify the various themes media had presented about mental health stigma. This paper involves the literature review of the five top UK newspapers on how they portrayed psychological health stigma after the Germanwings plane crash. I, therefore, conducted the literature review of the qualitative data documented in the UK newspapers. In this review, I thematically analyzed the five papers which were chosen based on the number of individual readers the newspapers reach. The use of thematic analysis was critical is providing the reviewer with an opportunity to investigate the area of discussion in the research widely. However, in the past, the application of this approach by researchers has received quite some criticism over what the critics refer to lack of elaborate guidelines in the method. Critics further relate this loophole in this approach to what in research is described as the omission of the way the researchers analyzed the results of the studies. The response to the critics and the fear to have our analysis bound by failures led the reviewers in the current report to carefully employ a methodology that is concise, transparent and replicable to the readers.
Attention was drawn to the procedure provided to help me in the proper application of the thematic analysis. The process provided was referenced by Braun and Clarke (2006) who in their book have outlined various phases indicating the movement from one step to the other for any researcher who would like to produce the work thematically. The procedure provided for by Braun and Clarke which the review applied in this report clearly define the thematic analysis indicating all the boundaries about the flexibility the approach enjoys. The reviewer in this report paid every allegiance to acknowledge the desire that we had in understanding the portrayal of all the publications that participated in this literature review and meanings that the writers of the papers attached in covering the issue of mental health stigma. Special consideration was given to the public view of these meanings the papers had expressed and examined from the whole social context to give them the right position for reporting. According to Braun and Clarke, this position is described as “contextualist” that appear right between what is essential and what the researcher, in this case, the reviewer had to construct personally. When carrying out literature review, researchers tend to apply various methodologies which in nature appear phenomenological as they also use the position that is mid- grounded. However, the thematic analysis is flexible and can as well be underpinned by the intermediate- view of what is justifiably believed and the opinion of the reviewers. Willig (2008, pg13) was able to make a conclusion of the position of the actual interpretation when he claimed that even though the interpretation tells of the “contextualism” of the literature, under flexibility, it is never the same case to the person going through the context. Therefore, it is essential that the reality of the mental health stigma is considered by exploring the media portrayal after the Germanwings plane crash. It is vital that the understanding of the role of the society in contributing and shaping the media presentation of the whole issue of mental health is incorporated.
The data involved in this study was obtained from the articles that had been written by the top five newspapers in the UK immediately after the plane crash on the French mountain Alps killing 150. The articles that were considered were those that had the information concerning the mental problem of the pilot who was in charge of the plane by the time the crash happened. Such data was valuable in helping to address the question of the study on the media portrayal of the stigma of the mental health.
2.3. Review design
During the literature review, the researcher identifies a procedural plan which facilitates the response to the various issues raised in the research topic accurately and objectively. The procedural method gives a guideline as to what the literature reviewer needs to do in the process of reviewing to help accomplish the objectivity of the study. In my review, because of the qualitative nature, analytical techniques were applied with the specific reference to the thematic analysis of the sources involved. The analytical methods helped in the coming out with the various chunks of strings that helped to formulate the required theory to help me address the question of my study. By using the thematic analysis in my research, it is easy to identify the patterns in the identified sources, analyze and create the meaning of such models which makes it easy to find the relationship in the sources of information involved in the study
Literature review sometimes is very involving and often takes a lot of time and resources depending on the method utilized to collect the required information for analysis. The statistical portal had presented more than 10 top newspapers that potentially could provide the reviewers with the required data for the study. Thus, there was the need to have the sample of the sources that could facilitate better conclusion. The sample is always a small portion that is taken from the whole population to be used in the study but often must have the characteristics similar to the entire population. For my literature review, sampling identified five newspapers based on the circulation and their accessibility to the readers in a month.
When sampling, all the bio- forms of the sources for the literature review were recorded only regarding the relevant information that could allow a better sample of the participating literature. The bio- forms involved were the names of the documents, the form of presentation, the country and the number of customers the newspaper reach in a month. Then after the bio- forms had been provided, they were collated using the excel doc that was later converted into the table with all the bio- forms indicating the sample of the participating sources in the form of demographics. The table below shows the collated bio- forms for the five top newspapers sampled for the review.
Table 1: Newspapers’ details
Sources Form of presentation Country No. of subscribers
The Daily Mail Print and digital UK 14,322,000
The Sun Print and digital UK 12,982,000
The Guardian Print and digital UK 9,978,000
The Telegraph Print and digital UK 9,807,000
The Mirror Print and digital UK 8,725,000
Source: Statista.com (2017)
Therefore, for this literature review, the sample for my study was the five newspapers in the United Kingdom representing the media coverage. The sample was identified based on their form of presentation. All the five media sources reached their customers through their printouts and digital platform, especially to their subscribers. All the participating literature sources were from the United Kingdom and were able to reach the British national new brands for a period of statistics between October 2016 and September 2017. The selection criterion was based on the number of the customers that the newspapers served in a month. Based on the figures provided, the Daily Mail was the most read newspaper, then the Sun, the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Mirror.
In any study, materials used always become the essential part of the resources that the study relies on them. The materials are crucial and a researcher needs to identify the elements that would help attaining the accuracy, validity and the reliability of the study outcome. My review of the topic of mental health and the stigma comes three years after the Germanwings plane crash had happened. It meant that any material I chose to use must have existed by the time the tragedy was happening and conclusively covered the whole scenario from the time the crash occurred to the end of the investigations and steps thereafter. Thus, I entirely relied on the already existing materials such as the Daily Mail and the Sun newspapers rather than creating materials for use. However, because the information needed was based on the outcome of the investigations into the air crash that killed 150 people and the possible outcome, newspapers were the best materials to incorporate into my study. Importantly were the articles of selected papers that provided the information on the mental health issues presented in the investigation. Therefore, newspapers served as the best materials to use for my literature review.
Apart from the literature sources, internet- the connected computer was vital in helping retrieve the computerized database on the topic of discussion. This involved searching for the relevant articles on the subject of discussion using the search strategy. Thus, the review team was able to design a search strategy with the technical knowledge of the specialists. The planned search strategy captured concepts such as mental health, depression, schizophrenia, burn out and other thoughts related to the mental disorders. Other materials involved the previous surveys documented by the earlier researchers in how media had impacted on the mental stigma after the crash. Other researchers like Schomerus, Stolzenburg, and Angermeyer researched the same field of mental health stigma after the crash, but their study could not capture the media coverage (Schomerus, Stolzenburg, and Angermeyer, 2015, pg353). For the inclusion of any material in my literature review, bother inclusion and exclusion criteria were considered. Such documents were only limited to the issues of mental health covered in the investigations following the plane crash of French Alps.
Procedure in the literature review involves the process the reviewer adopts to retrieve the required data from the various sources to make the results of the study. The procedure description should be detailed and precise enough for the future researchers and the readers to understand. The procedural plan as necessary as the results since it is the foundation upon which the course of the study lies. First, the literature review had to get the ethical approval as a rule in any form of research where the institution’s school of psychology and health ethics board approved my study. This was important in ensuring that I adhere to the medical health standard set by the board for my report to be accepted. Since the study involves literature review of the top five newspapers in the United Kingdom, the first step was to get all the media sources that had reported on the mental issues arising from the investigations into the Germanwings plane crash. I accessed both the print out materials and those in the digital formats. For the printed copies, I visited the institution library to obtain from the archives for those dated back to years of 2015, 2016 and 2017 after the plane crash. For the newest printout copies of the newspapers, I obtained them from the vendors and the bookshops and other areas that could offer me access to the papers. In the case of the digital format papers, I visited the official website of the respective articles and subscribed as a customer before given access to the documents. I, therefore, used the search strategy that our team of reviewers had the designed to get the most relevant articles. The search strategy allowed me to use the related concepts such as mental health, depression among others. All these articles were compressed in one volume for the analysis.
In analyzing the data from the newspapers, I paid particular attention to the words and the parts of the papers which expressed the stigma of the mental health. All the related words were coded and combined to form strings that transformed into the required themes that depicted the theory of stigmatization in the media coverage. The analysis was handled by at least three reviewers who cross-checked the articles to make sure all the relevant issues needed to conclude the topic of the study had been captured.
2.7. Data analysis
The study involves quantitative data from the selected top five newspapers in the United Kingdom that was thematically analyzed. The thematically analysis was to facilitate the researcher with the understanding how the media portrayed mental health stigma in their coverage after the Germanwings plane crash. For the review, the reviewers need to start by familiarizing themselves with the data provided in each article of the newspaper to identify the relevant data items (Braun, Clarke, 2006, slide10). Therefore, first, all the relevant articles of the five papers were done. Then to make the analysis easy, the data items extracted are merged to form the data set just before the process of coding starts. There are three stages involved in the thematic synthesis. The initial phase requires coding of the data that has been obtained from the secondary materials. The second stage is where the codes are now organized into various descriptive concepts before the analytical themes are generated in the third stage. The third stage is not just an interpretive stage of the sources of review but instead creates a new understanding of the topic under discussion.
The initial stage of the analysis involved outlining of the relevant strings where data from the five newspapers were coded even which could not directly relate to the mental health stigma (Braun, Clarke, 2006, slide15). In the cases where different articles had published data similar to other items from other papers, the review team was keen on avoiding double- counting. The next step within the first stage of coding involved focused coding where the similar strings identified were merged before the codes are reduced. An inductive approach was very critical when coding the data and identification of the themes and categories (Braun, Clarke, 2006, slide17). A lot of care was given to the seemingly diverging data and the interpretation to avoid giving in to the understanding of the writers of the articles. The last stage involved the building of the themes by analyzing the codes and considers their combination to form a similar theme.
2.8. Ethical considerations
The study considered ethics as the standard principle required to be observed by any researcher. I considered various ethical issues including the approval of my articles for review, approval of my study and conformity to the health policies such as the privacy rights of the patients. To meet these ethical issues, I completed the required ethical approval documentation from the institution. The five of the newspaper I chose for this study were the approved media that legally operate and circulated in the UK. However, I presented them for the approval from my school. All the policies related to health were observed including the right to privacy of the patients. This included the rights of the people with the mental illness, and the reviewers were keen during the interpretation of the data to avoid any prejudice or stigmatization of the mental health patients.
Results and results analysis
The method employed in the study identified five newspapers out of the possible number of nine papers located on the “statista” website. All the five publications exist in the United Kingdom. The journals included the Mail, the Sun, The Telegraph, The Guardian, and the Mirror (statista, 2017, pg1). After removing the duplicates, a total of 30 articles in the newspapers were included for the analysis as follows: for the Daily Mail, seven articles were analyzed. For the Sun and Telegraph, seven articles were analyzed each while the mirror and guardian included nine articles for analysis for each newspaper.
3.1. Newspapers analysis
3.1.1. The Daily Mail (2015, 2016): Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash
The Daily Mail was at the front of reporting on the investigations into the Germanwings plane crash. On 5th March 2016, The Daily Mail published a story indicating that the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who caused the plane crash had sent an email to his doctor weeks before the crash. In this reporting, the newspapers quoted the message in the email where words like afraid were used, ‘I am afraid to go blind… I can’t get this possibility out of my head (Daily Mail, 2016, pg1).” Again, in the same coverage, the Daily Mail used terms like distressing email to indicate that Andreas Lubitz was not all fine with his condition and that he was much depressed of the condition he was experiencing. On 25th March 2015, the newspaper reported that Andreas Lubitz at some time stopped to train after he showed signs of depression and burnout. In this coverage, the Daily Mail stated that the mass- killer- pilot deliberately flew the Germanwings to French Alps where it crashed. By deliberately causing the plane crash, then it means the pilot wanted to take away his life due to his mental health condition.
On 31st March 2015, the Daily Mail published indicating that the privacy rights in Germany prevented the doctors from informing the authorities of the Germanwings plane of the suicidal thoughts of their client who was a co-pilot in the plane that crashed (Golberstein, Eisenberg, and Gollust, 2008, pg. 395). Privacy rights were meant to handle the issue of patient discrimination and prejudice in the society. The Daily Mail reported on 26th March that the pilot did not inform the parents of his mental health conditions. The failure to inform the parents shows that Andreas feared to share his condition with others for social distance (Corrigan, 2000, pg. 60). The newspaper again revealed on the same date that the two doctors of Andreas had said he was not fit to fly on the same date the accident occurred that he kept it secret to the authorities. On this very date again, the Daily Mail indicated what psychologist had said of the instance claiming that Andreas committed atrocity before killing himself (Link, and Phelan, 2006, pg. 529). By claims of committing the atrocity, the daily mail indicated that mental health patients are dangerous. It was as well indicated in the reports that Andreas and the girlfriend were undergoing difficulties before the crash happened. Going through difficulties shows the distress the mental health patient and the family undergo in such conditions.
On the 28th March 2015, The Daily Mail news was shocking where they reported that Andreas Lubitz had a holiday at the scene of the crash with the parents. In this reporting, words like “passionate and obsessed with the alps (Daily Mail, 2015, pg1)” were used which related the mental health problem with the specific environment. Thus, from the use of the words in the reporting, the daily Mail vividly portrays the issue of the stigma of the mental health and how this issue is handled. One theme that comes out is that of protecting the mental health patients who often may be stigmatized because of their condition. Germany has measures in place just like any other country to see the privacy rights of the mentally ill people are protected.
3.1.2. The Telegraph (2017): Germanwings crash
The Telegraph is a UK based newspapers that also enjoys a huge market in the United Kingdom. The newspapers as well widely covered the unfolding of the events after the Germanwings plane crash where investigations vindicated the co-pilot Andreas as the main cause of the crash. Publishing on the 26th March 2015, the Telegraph indicated the revelation from the French investigators which showed that co-pilot Andreas was “incapacitated” few minutes to the crash. The use of the word incapacitate indicates that mental health patients have no capacity to deal with technical and highly sensitive situations. On the very day, the Telegraph reported of the police investigations into the happenings of the Germanwings plane crash which had already indicated the pilot deliberately flew the plane to the French mountain because of depression. On the 29th March, the Telegraph published indicating that the girlfriend to pilot Andreas Lubitz was pregnant and expecting a child though she was away from home at the time investigations were ongoing. However, on 5th May 2015, she quashed this as rumors and that she was not pregnant for Lubitz. Her actions indicate the perception that the family has on the issue of a stigmatized mental patient (Golberstein, Eisenberg, and Gollust, 2008, pg. 395).
The Telegraph also indicated on 21st March 2017 that the family of pilot Andreas would present new evidence to show that their son was innocent and so as to clear his name (Corrigan, 2006, pg. 239). The use of these words in the coverage indicates that most families do not like associating with the mental health issues and that they do anything to conceal this from the public due to stigma involved. On the same issue involving the family issues on mental health stigma, the Telegraph reported about the first appearance of the parents of Lubitz in public for the first time since the crash. The newspaper reported that “they had never spoken in public since the crash, (Telegraph, 2017, 1)”. The failure for speaking in public reveals how families and relatives perceive the whole issue of mental health problem as an embarrassment and disgrace to the reputation of the family. The following day on 2nd, the newspaper reported of Andreas having lied to doctors that he would not fly before being given heavy drugs. This portrays patients with mental health that they never reveal of their incapacitation and therefore unpredictable.
From this coverage by the Telegraph, a lot of evident emanates to support the various themes surrounding the theory of stigma. The theme of mental health stigma comes out very well from the actions of the patient and the family members. It also emerges that families and the relatives have the various diverging perception on the issue of mental health of a member of the family.
3.1.3. The Guardian (2015): Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash
The Guardian has a huge range of customers who it serves with the statistical approximation of serving almost 10 million people in a day. Its content coverage of the incidents following the Germanwings air crash depicted to a large extent the theory of stigma in the mental health. According to this newspaper, on 26th March 2015, it referred to Andreas Lubitz, the pilot who was said to “deliberately” crash the plane in French Aids as perfectly normal co-pilot according to his neighbors and friends. The two words used by the Guardian have their relation to the theory of mental health stigma in that the deliberate crash was due to the stigma the patient had for depression. At the same time perfectly normal shows how patients having mental problem keeps it a secret to anyone. On 26th March 2017, the newspaper reported that the father of the pilot Andreas had claimed that their son was not depressed and therefore he was not responsible for the deliberate plane crash to kill many people. The claims tell how families and relatives takes time to come in terms with the notion that a member has mental problem and often dispute this in public.
On 26th March 2015, the Guardian described Lubitz as the unpredictable pilot who appeared fit for duties but his medical story had a suggestion that something was wrong with him. The use of these words shows that people having mental health problem do not show up to be seen as if they are suffering from mental illness. On the same date again the newspaper reported on plans to have the airlines change the rules to have two pilots in the cockpit at a time. By changing the rules, this aimed at protecting the co-pilot and the passengers on board from any harm. On 28th March 2015, the Guardian reported of very shocking revelations from the former girlfriend to Andreas Lubitz who admitted that Lubitz had talked of doing something to make everyone remember him. Again these words express the same meaning of the danger of the mental health patients which is driven by anger and social discrimination. The newspaper report on 14th April 2016 where the families of the victims had sued the school of flight in the US for what they termed as negligence to address the medical history of the “suicide time bomb” the choice of the use of this terms again shows how people with mental health problems are perceived dangerous. On 27th March 2015, the Guardian published that after the details that Andreas had suffered long with depression and he deliberately caused the crash, his neighbors were stunned and never wanted to believe it. In fact, they said that investigators should not rush to judgment. This indicates the perception the relatives and neighbors of the patient with mental health problem have.
3.1.4. The Sun (2016, 2017): Germanwings plane crash
Sun newspaper also has the massive circulation in the UK reaching around 13 million individuals. Its coverage on the issue of the Germanwings plane crash depicts the theory of stigma at length. On 24th March 2017, the Sun wrote that the father of Andreas Lubitz now claims that the son was innocent and that he did not deliberately cause the death of 150 people. The newspaper further said that their son Lubitz never suffered depression and that the problem had long been treated. Again, these claims as presented by the sun indicate how families perceive the issue of mental health and that they do not like associating with it. it is out of this perception by the families and relatives that the issue of the stigma of mental health comes in this newspaper. The same news on the innocence claims by the family of pilot Lubitz is published on 28th February 2017 just to indicate family disassociation with mental health. On 26th March 2015, the newspaper again reports indicating that Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane which again tore into the predicaments of the mental health stigma. Thus, the coverage in this paper as well presents the theory of mental health stigma as well as the theme of family and relatives perception on the mental health problem.
3.1.5. The Daily Mirror (2015- 2017): Germanwings crash
The mirror closes the list of the top five newspapers in the United Kingdom and it enjoys a massive number of readers’ approximately 8.7 million people. It also was at the frontline to portray the theory of mental health stigma. The newspaper reports on 26th March of 2017 that the father had claimed the son was innocent and did not plan to kill 150 as he was not suffering from depression. Again the perception of the family on mental stigma is depicted in the writings of the news by the Mirror. On 13th March 2016, the mirror again reported that the Andreas had “no suicide pacts” with the psychiatrist during his treatment. The publication of these words indicates that people with mental health are at high chance of suicide commitment due to stigma and that is the reason the doctors have to make no suicide pacts with them. Again, the reporting by the mirror on 26th March 2017 of the investigation reports which revealed that Lubitz deliberately caused the plane crash indicates how dangerous the stigmatized mental patients are perceived. The following day on 27th, the mirror again revealed that just a day before the tragedy, Andreas Lubitz had separated with the girlfriend. The expression by the newspaper signifies of the social distance that is associated with the mental health stigma. The patients find it hard to socially interact with the family, friends, and relatives. On 26th March 2016, the newspaper reported of the French investigators trying to define the confidentiality between the doctor and the patient and how can this law changed to curb problems like the one experienced by the Germanwings airline. On the same date of the March 26th, 2015, the mirror publishes the long history of 40 years on the many planes crashes caused by the pilots with the mental problem. Again this is associated with the mental stigma that these pilots develop. Thus, like the other top newspapers, the mirror presents various themes on the issue of stigma including the protection of patients and family perception.
3.2. Articles analysis
Hall, A., and Allen. F (2017): Dad of killer Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz claims his son did NOT deliberately down jet – sparking fresh agony for Brit families. The Sun. Berlin.
The writers of this article reported that the father of the co-pilot who caused the crash killing 150 people, GuenterLubitz dismissed the reports indicated by the experts from the international level that his son deliberately caused the plane crash. The writers reported that the father insisted that the son was innocent. The article reveals that the father has hired an expert to investigate to challenge the findings which had branded his son as the depressed patient who killed people. The theme of family’s perspective that members of the family never want to associate with mental illness and that is the reason the father claims their son is innocent.
“……Myself, my wife and my younger son for whom I speak bear a sadness. However, that is totally different to other families because our son was blamed alone for the crash, (The Sun, 2017, pg1)”
Nauman. Z (2016): Suicidal Germanwings pilot who killed 144 people by crashing the plane into the mountain was promoted despite failing key flight test reveals FBI. The Sun.The US.
The writer of article Nauman reported that while training as a pilot in Arizona, the German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who deliberately caused the plane crashed failed important flight test. The report indicated that despite the pilot failure, he was still promoted to completion which resulted in him causing massive killing. However, the theory of mental health stigma comes in when the writer states that upon discovering that Andreas was suffering depression, he could have been flagged for the training.
“………Andreas Lubitz, who crashed jet into a mountain should have been flagged for suffering from depression while training in Arizona, US, (The Sun, 2016, pg1)
Hall. A (2017): Relatives of victims of suicidal Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz outraged as parents claim he may be innocent of their deaths. The Sun.
The writer in this article indicates that those relatives of the victims who died in the Germanwings plan crash were not happy with the claim of the parents that their son was innocent and not responsible for the said deaths. The reporter further says that the relatives believe that the reports that Andreas, the co-pilot was depressed and mentally ill and therefore deliberately caused the deaths were right. The theory of stigma comes out when the relatives become outraged indicating a societal notion that mentally ill people are dangerous and cause harm.
“………..to the relatives of the dead, the statement seems a denial of their son’s role as a mass murderer, (The Son 2017, pg1)”.
Parker. N (2015): Killer co-pilot tore up sicknote ruling him out of working on the day of horror crash. The Sun. Marseille, TOM GOODENOUGH. 27th March 2015, 2:05 pm
The writer in this article reported that Andreas Lubitz, the pilot who crashed the plane on French Alps deliberately tore up the sick- note from the doctors discouraging him from working on the particular day he caused the accident. The article reveals that the investigators discovered the note in the co- pilot’s house which indicated that he had been having the mental illness but hid this from the bosses of Germanwings. This portrays a stigmatized feeling that mental health patients have that they do not want to share their sickness for fear or discrimination and prejudice.
“…….The ripped-up medical note was found by investigators at the 28-year-old’s flat — who say he hid his illness from Germanwings bosses, (The Sun, 2015, pg1)”
Parker. N (2015): Co-pilot ‘deliberately crashed doomed jet’ The Sun. Seyne-Les-Alpes, France, and RHODRI PHILLIPS. 26th March 2015, 1:36 pm.
In this article, the writer indicates that officials in the investigations had revealed of a deliberate decision by the co-pilot to crash the plane. The report shows that after the co-pilot Patrick Sondheimer went to the toilet, the pilot in charge of the flight locked him out of the cockpit. He, however, refused to let him in as the co-pilot tried to smash the door. The theme of the stigma of mental health comes out when the writer claims that Andreas refused to let co-pilot in thus he is a harmful and dangerous person.
“……….A ROOKIE co-pilot deliberately crashed the doomedGermanWings jet in anattempt to “destroy the plane”, officials revealed, (The Sun, 2015, pg1)
Mayer. C (2015): Suicidal pilot ‘changed his mind as jet hit the Alps. The Sun. 7th May 2015, 11:01 pm
The writer of this article indicates that investigations reveal of the data from the black box which showed that Andreas Lubitz who caused the crash tried to avert the collision the very last time. However, even as he tried, investigations indicated he could not change the autopilot mode as the plane was going down. Again, in this article, a theme of incapacitation of the mentally ill people comes in when the writer says that the pilot tried but failed.
“……….An interim report by French investigators based on black box data concludes that his action “was not strong enough to turn off the autopilot, (The Sun, 2015, pg1)”.
Sobot. R. (2016): ‘I’m afraid to go blind’: Germanwings pilot sent distressing email to his doctor weeks before he slammed jet into French Alps and killed all 150 people on board. The Daily Mail.Mailonline. 5 March 2016.
The writer in this article of the Daily Mail reports of the revelation the co-pilot sent an email to his doctors before what the article refers to atrocity happened. The writer states that the details of the email were distressing as the pilot expressed his fear of going blind. This article addresses the stigmatization that the mental health patients go through which instill a lot of fear causing them distress.
“…………In the email, published by German newspaper Bild, he said: ‘I am afraid to go blind and I can’t get this possibility out of my head, (The Daily Mail, 2016, pg1).’
Simons. W, Boyle. D, Hall. A Tomlinson. S, Linning. S for MailOnline, Sime. H, Kelly. H, And Allen (2015) Mass-killer co-pilot who deliberately crashed Germanwings plane had to STOP training because he was suffering depression and ‘burn-out.’ The Daily Mail. London and Dusseldorf . 25 March 2015.
The writers of this articles talked of the emerging revelations that Lubitz at one time in 2008 was made to postpone the training as the pilot after the discovery that he was depressed. From the article such as signs should have been strong enough to stop Andreas from flying the commercial. The article, presents stigmatization by the fact that the patient was stopped from training. Also as the writer puts it, he should have been allowed to fly commercial planes.
“………..Lubitz was forced to postpone his pilot training in 2008 because of mental health problems, with a friend saying he was ‘in depression, (The Daily Mail, 2015, pg1).”
Tomlinson. S (2105): How the Nazis led to killer co-pilot being allowed to fly: Suicidal thoughts were kept from bosses by German privacy laws brought in after WWII to end government spying on its citizens. The Daily Mail. 31 March 2015.
The writer of the article, in this case, reports on the disclosure that the pilot who caused the death of 150 people could not let his condition are known to employers. However, the doctors could not as well tell off the status of his client to the employers without the consent of the patients. This article brings in the issues of privacy laws which protect the rights of the mentally ill patient to see that they are stigmatized as the public gets to know of their situations.
Boyle. D (2015): Revealed: Parents of killer co-pilot only learned of their son’s suicide mission just minutes before bombshell press conference. The Daily Mail, 26 March 2015.
From the article, up to the time of the press conference to reveal the outcomes of the investigation that indicated that Andreas was depressed and deliberately brought down the plane, the parents were not aware of the condition of their sons. The writer states that after this revelation by the prosecutor, the two parents were separated since their son had been found guilty of massive death. Thus, the separation of the parents indicates the social distance the mental health problem caused. As well the patients could not tell his condition to parents which signify some stigmatization.
Linning.S and Boyle. D (2015): Was Andreas Lubitz inspired by other plane disasters? Germanwings pilot’s actions echo recent tragedies – and could explain what happened to MH370. The Daily Mail. 26 March 2015.
The article examines other cases involving the plane crashes where the pilots deliberately caused the crash to have. An example is given of Herminio dos Santos who is said to have deliberately brought down the aircraft in 2013 causing a collision. The article links all these incidences to the psychological problem of the pilots. Again this perception that most cases of air crash have everything to do with mental disturbance is not well-intentioned especially for those who have the mental illness.
Williams. D, Marsden.S, Kelly. D, Glanfield. E (2015): Killer co-pilot sought treatment for problems with his VISION and was treated by neurologists for ‘severe overload syndrome’ and a ‘serious psychosomatic illness.’ The Daily Mail. 28 March 2015.
The writers in this article report of the officials released after their investigations indicating that the co-pilot Andreas has sought the treatment for the vision some weeks to the crash. He had as well seen neurologists for various psychological issues. According to this newspaper, the problem faced by the co-pilot if discovered or persisted could have led to his career coming to an end. This tells of the desperate feelings that go through the minds of the mental health patients. The perception that they cannot continue with their regular career is stigmatizing to them.
Akbar. J (2015): Germanwings pilot behaved like a ‘mass spree-killer’: Psychologist says Lubitz acted like a ‘US school shooter’ who commits atrocity then kills himself. The Daily Mail. 26 March 2015
This article brings out the subjective view depicting the happenings of the Germanwings plane crash. The psychologist examines the behaviors of the pilot Lubitz where the psychologist describes him as a killer and a shooter who first destroys before killing himself. This explanation by the psychologist gives more information about the mindset of a person who has mental illness and that these people always have a weak mentality that would destroy themselves and others.
Kelly. T, Boyle. D, and Hall. A (2015): Germanwings co-pilot killer ‘bought two Audis – one for him and one for his girlfriend weeks ago.’ The Daily Mail, 27 March 2015
The article reveals that few weeks to the tragedy of the plane crash, Lubitz had bought two brand cars. The writers report of the claims that Andreas had planned to give one car to the girlfriend. However, the article revealed that the girlfriend is yet to be known but is said to be living with the family. The media indicates that the two couples may have separated ahead of the tradegy. The theme of the stigma comes in again where Andreas is faced with the issues of social distance after the two are perceived to have separated.
Traynor.I and Osborne.L(2015): Andreas Lubitz: the ‘perfectly normal’ co-pilot who killed 150 people. 26 March 2015.
The article was about what the neighbors, friends and the relatives of the co-pilot who had caused the death of 150 as they tried to describe the actions blamed for doing. According to this article, the neighbors and friends recorded their dissatisfaction that they had known Andreas as an exemplary pilot who was qualified and indicated no distress sign. However, this uses the term “perfectly normal” ironically portraying a notion that the referral by the neighbors and friends that Andreas was good and trusted is not correct. Again depicts the unpredictability and fear of the mental health people as dangerous.
Tran. M and Yuhas. A (2015): Germanwings crash: airliners change cockpit rules after co-pilot blamed – as it happened. The Guardian. 26th March 2015.
The article informs of the change in rules of the cockpit after details revealed that the co-pilot deliberately locked the captain to access the cockpit. The new rule makes it a must to have two people in the cockpit at ago. Thus, when a captain leaves the cockpit, another crew member who is qualified can occupy the position so that the pilot is not left alone. The development of this rule can seem from the point that the airlines have a notion that the pilots who might be having mental issues still have a potential of committing harm. On the other hand, the theme of protection for the passengers on board is developed.
Press Association (2015).Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz saw 41 doctors in years before the crash. The family of victims shocked by medical revelations about co-pilot who is believed to have caused the accident.The Guardian. 12 Jun 2015.
The article reports of the reaction of the family members of the victims who perished when they were told that Andreas, the pilot who had caused the death of their people had seen 41 doctors for the mental health problem. From the article, the relatives were yet to come to terms with this revelation that despite the medical condition of Andreas, he was allowed to fly the plane. According to the relatives, the mental issue of the patient rendered him unfit for the job. Again, this explains the discrimination and prejudice against the people with the psychological problem in the society that they cannot do the specific job.
Willsher. K. (2015): Don’t blame depression for the Germanwings tragedy. The Guardian. 27 Mar 2015
In this article, the writer expresses the feeling that the blame on the misery that Andreas was suffering from was going beyond. The report states that despite the fact that investigators have found out that Andreas was experiencing depression, does not justify that he deliberately brought down the plane. The article claims that such accusations are at the danger of demonizing those people having mental complications. Therefore, the portrayal by the writer justifies of the already existing stigma, and any further linkage of the depression to the plane crash only makes the shame of the mental health worse than before.
Knight. B, Harding. L., and Willsher (2015). Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz ‘wanted to make everyone remember him. The Guardian.28 Mar 2015.
This article was about the message that the former girlfriend had revealed to the investigators. According to the report, “the former girlfriend of Andreas claims that Andreas told her that he would do something to change the system, (The Guardian, 2015, 1)”. The girlfriend further states that the nightmares Andreas had scared her which led to the separation. The stigma of the mental health is depicted by the fact that the former girlfriend had to separate from Andreas because of the psychological issues which amount to social distance of the psychiatric patients. Then the reporting on the statements made by Andreas expresses what the perception the public has on what goes in the minds of the depressed people.
Associated Press (2016): Germanwings crash: families sue US flight school for failing to screen pilot. The Guardian.14 Apr 2016
In the article tells the victims’ families sued the flight school in the US for not adequately addressing the issue of the medical history of Andreas Lubitz. According to the lawyer for the families, Andreas was a “suicide time bomb.” The suit against the school by the families of the victims is another perception depicting the societal notion against the people with the mental health issue that they are unpredictable and can cause a lot of trouble such as massive killing. The negligence is as well realized on the part of the school for not being keen on handling the mental health case observed in the Andreas Lubitz.
Wheatstone. R. (2016) Germanwings plane crash report reveals pilot Andreas Lubitz made ‘no suicide pacts’ with the psychiatrist. The Mirror. 13 MAR 2016.
The writer of the article reveals of the findings of the investigation officers who found out that Andreas made numerous “no suicide pacts” with the psychiatrists. The pacts were made two months before the said pilot started his training as a pilot back in the year 2008. According to the details of the agreements as the writer reports, it contained steps that Lubitz needed to take to protect him in cases where he felt suicidal. From what the article reports, we can tell the perception that the society including the medical field has on the mentally ill patients. That they stigma they have led them to think of suicide which renders them dangerous.
Wheatstone. R. (2016): Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot ‘wanted to destroy the plane. The Mirror. 2015-03-26
The article reports on what the French official had found out following the Germanwings plane crash. According to this article, the French officials had stated that “the co-pilot Lubitz appeared to want to destroy the plane (The Mirror, 2015, 1)”. The revelation as the Mirror reports exposes the behavior of the mental health people that they sometimes do not recognize the people around them and how their actions would harm others. This is a mentality that serves to stigmatize the mentally ill patients.
Rayner. G (2015): Germanwings crash: Pilot may have been incapacitated in minutes before the disaster. The Telegraph. 25 Mar 2015.
In this article, the writer tells of the investigation of the French officials analyzing the black box recording. The recordings reveal of some incapacitation from the pilot by the time the plane started to descent. The efforts by the French traffic controllers to radio the cockpit bored no fruit as no response was forthcoming. From what the Telegraph reports in this article, we can tell the incapacity that the mental health patients are associated with by the public. This is a notion that they cannot offer a solution in sensitive situations.
Walton. G (2015): Girlfriend of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz is ‘expecting his child’ The Telegraph. 29 Mar 2015
The article reported that Lubitz’s girlfriend is pregnant of him but the name of the girlfriend is not revealed since she is said to be unknown. According to the reports, even the two were planning to marry each other, but this could not be confirmed since no one was ready to talk about it. However, in a new twist, the article indicates that after the girl heard of the reports, she dismissed them as rumors and that she was not pregnant for Lubitz. This is an exact illustration of the challenges the mentally ill faces; they face denial from the closed people when they realize that they have mental issues.
Sawer.P and Bainbridge. A (2015): Andreas Lubitz: the first picture of Germanwings co-pilot’s father emerges. The Telegraph. 01 Apr 2015
As the writer begin to report on the issue of the image of the father of co-pilot Andreas, they start by telling of how the pilot left his father, Guenter in running race. The writers then talk of the picture of the distraught father emerging for the first time. From the article, the father seems distressed after the findings which indicated that his son was responsible for the lives of 150. The presentation by the writer portrays the perceptions families have if a member is associated with the mental problem. Families feel embarrassed and feel the reputation of their name distorted.
The thematic analysis that was used in the transcripts of the study resulted in various concepts whose evidence was found in the data. The extracted themes facilitated the understanding of the relevant articles from the five top UK newspapers and how they portrayed the mental health stigma when reporting after Germanwings plane crash. The categories of the themes were defined as the stigma of the mental health, the protection, and family perception. We acknowledge other many aspects coming out of the context depicting the understanding of the articles, and they overlap across the identified themes. In general, this should only be perceived as the best way of interpreting the attitude and the understanding. More importantly is to note that they are not the isolated concepts that make up the themes but the ideas are relative to each other. This section of the discussion puts the defined themes after the analysis into the context of the articles and about the literature of the mental health combined by other researchers in the field who have documented their findings.
4.1. The stigma of the mental health
Stigma can be associated with the social injustice often leading a person to experience a “spoiled identity. Mental health stigma discredits the identity, status and the behavior of the patients having mental problems. Thus, the society holds some stereotypes about a stigmatized state of a mentally ill person leading to the stigmatization of the person (Sickel, Nabors, &Seacat, 2014, pg. 206). The mentally ill are often prejudiced and discriminated against all domains of life. The situation then leads to these people developing self- identity and behaviors that will combat the societal view of them (Clement, Schauman, Graham, Maggioni, Evans-Lacko, Bezborodovs, Morgan, Rüsch, Brown, and Thornicroft, 2015, pg.15). Across all the articles from the newspapers, the themes manifest from the point of the coverage of the Germanwings plan. Andreas Lubitz, a successful pilot, keeps this medical condition unknown to his employers, friends and even the closest family. On 26th March 2015, the Daily Mail reported that Andreas Lubitz had been advised by the doctor not to work the day of crash. “Ralf Herrenbrueck, a spokesman for the German prosecutor’s office, revealed that torn-up sick note on the day of the crash ‘support the current preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues (The Daily Mail, 2015, pg1)”. In many occasions, after treatment, no one noticed of what Andreas Lubitz was going through as this remained a secret between him and the doctors he visited.
The Daily Mail article on 26th March 2015 that the parents to Andreas Lubitz only become of the medical situation of their son just before the prosecutor released the bombshell news of the investigation claiming that Andreas was suffering depression. The friends and the neighbors as well are reported to have found difficulties in coming to terms with the actions of Andreas Lubitz. Most claim they knew him as an exemplary pilot who had the trust of his employer. In general, the outcome of the investigations of the Germanwings plane crash got everyone by surprise as Lubitz kept the condition out of everyone. A lot of evidence is gathered from the articles of the newspapers defining the unique behaviors few weeks to the tragedy which depicted that something was bothering him but did not want to disclose this. For instance, the former girlfriend revealed in the Guardian article that Andreas had always promised of doing something that will change the whole system and make the world remember him. The notion by Andreas Lubitz of keeping this out from the public was discussed by Sickel, Nabors, &Seacat, (2014, pg103) whose study established the stigmatization among the mentally ill patient. According to these researchers, the patients find difficulties to seek the psychological treatment for fear of the social discrimination and prejudice (Wahl, 1999, pg467).
Further inquiries into the matter after the crash according to the Daily Mail, the pharmacist from the nearby shop revealed to the investigators that often Andreas would buy the antidepressants from the shop but could not tell the treatment for the drugs. The co-pilot as the reports from various articles of the newspapers indicate did not even disclose the problem to his girlfriend. The decision for the pilot who was undergoing depression depicts the stigma the patients with mental illness experience once the society becomes aware of their situation (Appelbaum, and Grisso, 1995, pg23). The mental health patients have often discriminated again specific career the community sees as sensitive to be left in the hands of a person having the psychological issue (Cheng, Wang, McDermott, Kridel, &Rislin, J 2018, pg68). For instance, the Guardian reports of the suitcase the families of the victims had presented in the court suing the US flight school for what the lawyers for the family describe as negligence on the part of the school. From what the newspaper presents, after the transfer of training by the captain in 2008, the school could have used the medical history to discontinue Lubitz. The Daily Mail also reported that interrogation from the friends that Andreas was obsessed with flying as a career and was very happy when he was employed as a pilot, therefore, any decision to stop him from being one would have been against what he wished to become (McKenna, 2017, pg64).
Thus, all the five newspapers in one way or the other presented various aspects which evidenced stigmatization to the mental issues. This range from the headlines the newspapers’ articles reported using unfair terms like, massive- killer, suicide time bomb, the rookie pilot and all names that cause the stigma to the patients with the mental problems. The stigma is the central theme which builds up in the media coverage of the happenings of the Germanwings plane crash.
Protection was depicted in the media coverage of Germanwings plane crash concerning the mental health. The theme of protection is provided for both the mental health patients against the stigma and for the people who encounter the actions of these patients (Weiss, Ramakrishna, and Somma, 2006, pg. 282). Protection is expressed when it comes to healthcare where the privacy rights of every person are protected, and no medical practitioner is allowed to share the medical information of the patient without consent. The Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act cite the information that is protected for an adult person with the mental illness. The report includes that what the doctor records, any conversation with a doctor with nurses and others on a patient’s treatment, patient’s billing information and any mental treatment information held by any person (Annas, 2003, pg. 1487). Thus, under the low guiding health sector, medical health privacy is guaranteed to a patient. According to what the top UK newspapers publish, shocking revelations come out of the mental condition of Andreas Lubitz, a pilot who caused the German Plane crash. The investigation reveals of him suffering from depression and burnout which he could disclose to neither aviation boss nor the employer. Neither does any of the 41 doctors that reports indicate he sought made this known due to the patient’s privacy rights (The Guardian, 2015, pg. 1). With these rights in place, patients cannot be discriminated or face prejudice in any form as little is known about them (Rothenberg, Ganz, Wenger, Rothenberg, Ganz, & Wenger, 2016, pg324). For the case of mental illness like that of the co-pilot Andreas, the privacy right kept him from the mental health stigma that could probably have cost his career as a pilot from what media coverage portrays.
The media as well covers this theory of protection for the people whose mental patient stigmatization may encounter with. For instance, the Daily Mail reported that the investigations had linked the co-pilot to the deliberate causing of the plane crash due to the depression he was suffering. Due to mental incapacity of the pilot, 150 lives were claimed; this necessitated the airliner authorities to amend the cockpit rules that the pilot is not left alone in the cockpit to protect passengers. The change in the regulations was reported by both the Daily Mail and the Guardian which indicated that airlines had already started implementing the rule. All the difference in the provisions of the flight responds to the protection of the passengers in case the action of the mentally ill patient who may be stigmatized threatens the lives of the passengers on board.
The role of the patients in making the decisions about their care is protected at all cost by the established medical privacy. Appelbaum and Grisso, (1995, pg. 105) explain of a project which was meant to provide the information that could address the concerned issue of patients’ with mental illness having the ability to make decisions on the psychiatric treatment they ought to seek. From what the authors describe in this article, the competence of the patients with mental illness to make decisions on their treatment is only based on the legal ground (Weiss, Ramakrishna, and Somma, 2006, pg. 282). In this case, if a patient can communicate his choice, accepts the situation and the underlying consequences, and understand the information, then any person with a mental health condition is legal at liberty to make decisions on his condition without interference. According to the prosecutor of France, Brice Robin, as indicated by the Guardian, despite Andreas Lubitz recently consulting 41 doctors for treatment on mental complications, none of these doctors came forth to disclose this to Lubitz’s employer (The Guardian, 2015, pg. 1). Reporting on the same on 31st March 2015, The Daily Mail reported that the German privacy laws kept off the aviation bosses and the employer of the suicidal thoughts (The Daily Mail, 2015, pg. 1). The newspaper continued to express how the laws were set to bar the government from spying the citizens and possible social stigma. Thus, the privacy laws only left co-pilot Andreas Lubitz at the mercy of explaining his conditions to the employer which he did not do.
The theme of protection also is depicted from the point when the legislatures consider amending the patient privacy rights policy to allow the employers in highly sensitive fields like air transport services to have their doctors who will attend to employees’ medical attention. The amendment of the law would make it possible for the doctors to share with the employer about the employee’s medical concern without employee’s consent that may cause harm in the area the employee handles. Though, this takes away the rights of the people with a mental health condition who may face the discrimination in their careers and may be isolated by the employers (Link, and Phelan, 2006, pg295). Thus, protection in the media coverage is evidenced in the newspapers and has its links to the theory of the stigma for patients with mental illness.
4.3. Family perspectives on mental health stigma
Diverse opinions and attitudes emerge from what media covers after the Germanwings plane crash happened. Particular attention of the media is given to the outcomes of the investigations whose revelation media describes as shocking and seems like everything did not expect it to happen that way. When the officials both from France and German started releasing press conferences on the cause of the crash, the top five newspapers started to report on the perspectives from the families, relatives, friends, and neighbors. However, the firm focus turns to the family, the father and the mother of Lubitz who is said to have suffered from depression. The many reports on the newspapers on how the immediate family reacts to the issue of the mental problem become an area of interest to examine the family perspective as a theme. Considering the family perspective combined various aspects that help us understand how the majority of the family reacts in cases of a member suffers from mental health and the level of care the person receives from the family (Buizza, Schulze, Bertocchi, Rossi, Ghilardi, and Pioli, 2007, pg23).
When friends, family members, and relatives learn of the mental health stigma in of their close person, these groups assume the roles in the lives of the patients (Shibre, Negash, Kullgren, Kebede, Alem, Fekadu, Fekadu, Medhin, and Jacobsson, 2001, pg301). However, the experience of prejudice and discrimination of the patient often undermine these roles played by the family members. On learning of the problem experienced by their member, family as well face stigma as they associated with the mental health patient (Larson, and Corrigan, 2008, pg. 88). Therefore, in the perception of the stigmatized psychological health patient, the judgments of the family are about the social roles and how to internalize the stigma in the patient (Golberstein, Eisenberg, and Gollust, 2008, pg395). Other associated perspective involved the mental health care services and their imaginations of how the public perceives the issue of mental illness (Wright, Gronfein, and Owens, 2000, pg. 75).
The Sun reported on 25th March 2017 that the father to the pilot, Lubitz had claimed that his son was innocent and did not plan to kill the passengers. The newspaper further said that the father came to the defense of the son that he suffered depression at any time. We see the same reaction from the neighbors and friends to do not buy the outcome of the investigations. The girlfriend as well does not identify herself and tarnishes the reports that she is pregnant with Lubitz. All these aspects from the coverage of the newspaper show some disassociation from the mental health issue. The father struggles to clear the name of the family that their son suffered depression. The neighbors as well distance themselves from the actions resulting from depression. The evidence from the articles enough proves that the family has the negative perspective on the issue of mental health which significantly contributes to stigma.
The coverage of the whole scenario of the Germanwings plane crash presents the issue of the stigma of mental health in various domains. Buizza, Schulze, Bertocchi, Rossi, Ghilardi, and Pioli, (2007, pg. 23) present the multiple perspectives in which the family and the relatives of the stigmatized mental patient internalize the psychological problem and cope with the problem. Lubitz’s parents, in this case, were not told of their son suffering from the depression. However, from what the papers present, the parents might have had the information but did not want the issue to explode for fear of the consequences of career loss of their son. Even after the investigation reveals that Andreas was having mental problems, his parents do not want to agree with the findings and do everything to his defense. They come up with evidence to show that that co-pilot Andreas was not suffering from depression and that any problem he had was solved. The family does not want to associate with the issue of mental illness.
In the literature review of this topic, various shortcomings were observed, and most of the challenges experienced related to the methodology. Time constraint was a significant challenge as the reviewers had to go through all the articles to get the media address on the question of discussion. Therefore, going through all the materials needed a lot of time contrary to the initial time allocated for the study. The financial constraint was quite a challenge especially when it came to getting the right publications in place for the review. The reviewers needed the internet- connected computers. They also needed to acquire other printed publications with topics relevant to the question of discussion.
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