Germanwings Co-Pilot’s Depression

Mental Health Awareness

During my interview on FOX News Channel’s The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson today, I shared my insights live, in response to the tragic story of the airplane crash upon which the Germanwings co-pilot reportedly had a history of severe depression. I appreciate having the opportunity to share my thoughts, for the media is the vessel upon which Psychotherapists such as myself are invited to increase mental health awareness to the public. As I am a strong believer that mental health awareness is imperative. I agree with Gretchen’s assertion that mental illness must not be swept under the rug.

Gretchen & Dr KIf you are interested in viewing my interview, here’s the link: Germanwings Co-Pilot History Of Depression. Furthermore, below you shall find more talking points that I documented in an effort to further provide additional mental health awareness which includes:

  • Depression statistics
  • Depression and suicide
  • Where to get help and what kind of help
  • Does counseling help?
  • Considerations for the future: clinicians, testing

Talking Points:

Are you suffering from depression?

Current statistics show approximately 1 in 10 American adults suffer from depression. If you are experiencing depression, reach out for help. Contact your primary care physician for their recommendation to a mental health provider they trust. Contact your insurance provider for a list of names of therapists in your surrounding area of whom specializes in depression.

Do all people who are depressed commit suicide?

Current statistics show that 15% of those suffering from severe depression commit suicide. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, feeling helpless or hopeless, reach out for help. Do not be afraid to seek out help, your life is worth saving. As the well known saying goes: “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. The phone # for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 800-273-8255.

Does counseling work to help people with depression?

Statistics suggest that 80-90% of those of whom get help for depression are indeed helped and are able to manage their symptoms. Some people receive counseling, others receive medication, and others receive a combination treatment plan of both. In my experience, I find cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective for cases of depression. In severe cases of depression, cognitive behavioral therapy combined with medication is the most effective.

Take ownership of your mental health

Those with mental illness must take ownership of their illness, seek out help when needing it.

Those with depression and many other mental illnesses are able to function, hold down jobs, and be productive. Having depression is not a sentence to not being capable of caring for others, though it is imperative that it is managed with consistency.

Treatment clinicians who work with depressed clientele

Clinicians who work in the mental health industry of whom believe their patient is unfit for work, and that patient is someone who holds the lives of others in their hands (e.g., a pilot), should disclose this information directly to the employer. Having one’s patient sign the appropriate release form is a simple request that can be made, and if the patient refuses, that is a potential indicator that they are not on their own going to “fess up” to their employer that they are unfit for duty. Confronting one’s patient about clinical concerns has the potential to ultimately lead a clinician to have to seek out help for a potential safety risk. As clinicians we must not live in fear of reporting if something seems disturbing and concerning to us, it is our duty to protect people from harming themselves and others if we see a red flag.

Reports show that in the case of this co-pilot, he had a doctor’s note indicating he was to take a break from work, yet he never handed in that note. There are those of whom may “fess up”, and there are others of whom may keep their medical condition a secret, whether that is because they are afraid they’ll be fired, do not want to miss a day’s pay, feel it is a stigma, they think they won’t act out on their suicidal thoughts, or they think they will act out on their suicidal thoughts and they want to act out on those thoughts and do not want anyone to get in their way.

Psychological testing

Psychological testing, as it is currently set up is not always enough, when you hold a job where people’s lives are in your hands. Something I believe to consider for the future if we are to re-evaluate testing, is psychological testing that includes a more systemic approach, rather than an individualistic theory. Meaning: involving the nuclear family in the interviewing and check up process. Just as a job interview requires references, so should a psychological test in order to understand the full person, not just the person he/she is trying to present.

10-Seconds-To-Mental-Health-125x125Take my mental health challenge! If you are interested in reading one mental health tip per day to jump start your journey of mental health growth, take a sneak peek into my newest book: ‘10 Seconds To Mental Health‘ where I provide 200+ mental health tips. A fun, informative and helpful easy read where I provide motivating and inspiring practical tips! (If you are suffering from depression, please seek out help, for no article nor book is a substitute for talking with a trained, skilled, and caring professional).

Written by


Follow Dr. Karen on Twitter or Facebook. Media Psychotherapist Guest Expert; Relationships, Parenting, Human Behavior, Analyzes Hot Topics In The News. Has appeared on FOX News Channel's: The O'Reilly Factor, Your World With Neil Cavuto, Hannity, America's Newsroom, America's News HQ, FOX & Friends, FOX & Friends FIRST, America Live, and FOX Business Network's: Neil Cavuto, and The Willis Report. The go–to expert for FOX News Boston including the regular segment; Ask Dr. Karen. Also appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, Lifetime, Discovery Network's Destination America, MTV, The Steve Harvey TV Show, and more. Sought after Radio Guest Expert. Columnist. Speaker. Often quoted in various print media: Wall Street Journal, FOX Business, FOX News Magazine, Boston Magazine, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, WebMD, Good Housekeeping, Yahoo Shine, Parents, Parenting, CNN, TIME, Woman's Day, Women's Health, Men's Health, USA Today, Care.com, and more. Owner/Founder/President: Dr. Karen Ruskin & Associates, Inc. Based in Massachusetts. Author of: 9 Key Techniques For Raising Respectful Children, 10 Seconds To Mental Health, and Dr. Karen's Marriage Manual.

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