Mental health issues concerning Airline Pilots

888Airman

Well-Known Member
Hello,

I am watching the current vicious covid19 situation very carefully as it impacts airline pilot careers worldwide and--by extension--the stability of related family life. I can only imagine the stress of suddenly losing a dream job, along with the stability of a steady paycheck and enviable family benefits (i.e. housing allowances, club memberships and educational allowances for children). I can also imagine the mental and emotional pressures imposed upon a man (who may have been the main breadwinner) to uproot his family and start again someplace different, with no bankable skill-sets outside of commercial aviation flying.

I was always curious as to how the airline industry dealt with issues of mental health maintenance, specifically airline pilots who may regularly engage professional therapists ( while actively employed or are in transition between jobs). How are pilots treated if their background information includes a record of mental therapist counseling sessions? Is therapist counseling for commercial aviators encouraged in the industry, or are therapy visits viewed with suspicion and disfavor among airline companies and recruiters?
 

tiredcfi

Not a child of magenta
Industry professionals are generally unable to (officially) get the help they need for fear of losing their career due to the FAA medical process. The FAA has made the process so ridiculous for anyone to go on the record to get help that most usually just keep it to themselves and keep on flying.
 

jynxyjoe

The Kickin' Chicken!
Hello,

I am watching the current vicious covid19 situation very carefully as it impacts airline pilot careers worldwide and--by extension--the stability of related family life. I can only imagine the stress of suddenly losing a dream job, along with the stability of a steady paycheck and enviable family benefits (i.e. housing allowances, club memberships and educational allowances for children). I can also imagine the mental and emotional pressures imposed upon a man (who may have been the main breadwinner) to uproot his family and start again someplace different, with no bankable skill-sets outside of commercial aviation flying.

I was always curious as to how the airline industry dealt with issues of mental health maintenance, specifically airline pilots who may regularly engage professional therapists ( while actively employed or are in transition between jobs). How are pilots treated if their background information includes a record of mental therapist counseling sessions? Is therapist counseling for commercial aviators encouraged in the industry, or are therapy visits viewed with suspicion and disfavor among airline companies and recruiters?
Best thing a pilot can do is ignore it, head to the winchester, and hope it all blows over.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Best thing a pilot can do is ignore it, head to the winchester, and hope it all blows over.
Gawd. I know you meant that with tongue firmly planted in cheek (and I picked it up right away) but it's an epic tragedy that it's true.

For all of its surprising pragmatism, the FAA is woefully behind the times and literally crushing the souls of pilots with these policies.
 

MFT1Air

Well-Known Member
I still remember the airline industry's "Don't Rush" challenge. It does seem as if it was just yesterday, but the optimism lives on.
 

jynxyjoe

The Kickin' Chicken!
Gawd. I know you meant that with tongue firmly planted in cheek (and I picked it up right away) but it's an epic tragedy that it's true.

For all of its surprising pragmatism, the FAA is woefully behind the times and literally crushing the souls of pilots with these policies.
It is and it does. The plain truth is (my opinion) the FAA doesn't believe pilots should have "issues" and even if they did they never get better. They dont believe therapy does anything unless its alcohol related. Its hilarious watching smart people try and pin the Feds down on their logic. There's no sense in any of it unless they believe its not real or they believe therapy doesn't work.

Men are gonna go through some sort of depression in their life, lets face it, most of us are on plan Y or Z, and the feds dont think its a big deal. Bang an fa and drink on the overnight until you get over it.

I wish it wasnt true, because you see guys clearly hide things until they snap. Those of you reading this that have done union volunteer work long enough see it, its pervasive, and as far as the faa is concerned you should sublimate depression into alcoholism and then get into a HIMS program and *waves magic wand* you're healed.

I got no answers how to fix it. For all i know, the FAA is right and I'm wrong, but it sure looks inhuman from the outside looking in.
 

MFT1Air

Well-Known Member
It is and it does. The plain truth is (my opinion) the FAA doesn't believe pilots should have "issues" and even if they did they never get better. They dont believe therapy does anything unless its alcohol related. Its hilarious watching smart people try and pin the Feds down on their logic. There's no sense in any of it unless they believe its not real or they believe therapy doesn't work.

Men are gonna go through some sort of depression in their life, lets face it, most of us are on plan Y or Z, and the feds dont think its a big deal. Bang an fa and drink on the overnight until you get over it.

I wish it wasnt true, because you see guys clearly hide things until they snap. Those of you reading this that have done union volunteer work long enough see it, its pervasive, and as far as the faa is concerned you should sublimate depression into alcoholism and then get into a HIMS program and *waves magic wand* you're healed.

I got no answers how to fix it. For all i know, the FAA is right and I'm wrong, but it sure looks inhuman from the outside looking in.

Mental illness has ALWAYS been a problem in America. The issue is no one wants to PAY for try to fix it. If you make it an issue, you need cash to resolve it. . .so? Ignore it. That's always been the mentality.

People never acknowledged PTSD. Now, it's prevalent in every way. Why? Lawyers sue and added the mental anguish/pain/suffering in the litigation.
 

jynxyjoe

The Kickin' Chicken!
Mental illness has ALWAYS been a problem in America. The issue is no one wants to PAY for try to fix it. If you make it an issue, you need cash to resolve it. . .so? Ignore it. That's always been the mentality.

People never acknowledged PTSD. Now, it's prevalent in every way. Why? Lawyers sue and added the mental anguish/pain/suffering in the litigation.
I mean, i get what you're saying. I just want someone to publicly call the FAA out on their lying crap. The FAA doesn't believe mental health is a real thing or they believe you cant get better. The only thing that can be fixed is a drinking problem.

I could write a gallagher like comedy sketch about their bs. Just like when he used to break down how tough the english language was just from a spelling standpoint and how every time you learn the way to say a word the rule wont work on the new word. The faa has no consistency and theres no way to help ur pilot who is asking for help. I'd never say this to a real guy in real pain, but swear to God the only door to help the FAA believes in abuse of alcohol.
 

JordanD

Honorary Member
FWIW, ALPA has been very vocal about resources for pilots to manage stress and reach out to someone ever since COVID started. That said, I'm not sure what a lot of that entails other than seminars and peer to peer stuff, which I'm sure can be very helpful. But at the same time, actual clinical help is probably not a thing that's available to pilots without risking their careers. I'm sure there's plenty of crossover, but there can be quite a difference between acute stress caused by, well... 2020, and long term clinical anxiety or depression in pilots. It seems like ALPA is doing a lot of good in getting resources out there for the former, but the FAA really needs to step up and overhaul how they handle the latter, because I don't think it's doing anyone any favors.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
I'm curious about something.

The FAA has well-defined guidance and controls regarding medication.

Does it have similar guidance for pilots who need non-medication-involved counseling?

After the end of my first marriage, when I decided to earn my PPL, I did receive some counseling for a while; it was traumatic and I needed some help. And when I applied for a medical I had to get a letter from the therapist stating that I had completed a cycle of treatment and that I had been "treated to remission."

This satisfied the FAA, they issued my medical, and though it was awkward and weird to ask the therapist for that, it was relatively painless.

But that was a neat little box with a specific event. And we all know that people's lives are complicated and messy and some people really do need counseling their entire lives - how does the FAA approach that? Because if there's not medication involved and a pilot is simply seeking counseling in life and they're not a danger to themselves or others, I kind of think it's none of the FAA's goddamned business.

But I can't believe it's that cut and dried, either, and I know it has likely been debated heavily in DC and OKC...so it would be interesting to know what guidance the FAA gives AMEs in these matters.
 

Inverted25

Well-Known Member
I'm curious about something.

The FAA has well-defined guidance and controls regarding medication.

Does it have similar guidance for pilots who need non-medication-involved counseling?

After the end of my first marriage, when I decided to earn my PPL, I did receive some counseling for a while; it was traumatic and I needed some help. And when I applied for a medical I had to get a letter from the therapist stating that I had completed a cycle of treatment and that I had been "treated to remission."

This satisfied the FAA, they issued my medical, and though it was awkward and weird to ask the therapist for that, it was relatively painless.

But that was a neat little box with a specific event. And we all know that people's lives are complicated and messy and some people really do need counseling their entire lives - how does the FAA approach that? Because if there's not medication involved and a pilot is simply seeking counseling in life and they're not a danger to themselves or others, I kind of think it's none of the FAA's goddamned business.

But I can't believe it's that cut and dried, either, and I know it has likely been debated heavily in DC and OKC...so it would be interesting to know what guidance the FAA gives AMEs in these matters.
This is why a lot of people pay for therapy in cash. If it doesn’t get submitted to your medical insurance it never officially happened. At least not traceable


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killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
This is why a lot of people pay for therapy in cash. If it doesn’t get submitted to your medical insurance it never officially happened. At least not traceable


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But it's not right.

Pilots should not fear a loss of livelihood because they're seeking personal help for something the FAA makes them terrified of.

It's wrong.
 

BEEF SUPREME

Well-Known Member
Ohhhh,

Now we get to circle around to one of Beef Supreme's reasons why aviation isn't the best career. Yay! Everyone who operates manned aircraft professionally has to fill out a medical form and we all have to answer this following question:

Have you ever experienced:

21.12 m. Mental disorders of any sort: depression, anxiety, etc

Everyone who wants to keep flying selects a negative response for that. If you select a positive response you lose your job and possibly your career. I very much doubt that anyone has voluntarily checked that box during their career as a professional pilot.

Now consider the rate of anxiety and depression in the US. In 2017 it affected 1 in 5 adults. So roughly 20% of the US population is affected by either anxiety and depression. This has slowly increased from about 20% to 40% during the Covid-19 crisis. Strangely zero pilots are affected. That's right during a crushing global pandemic which has severely impacted our careers, we are all totally fine.
 

jynxyjoe

The Kickin' Chicken!
Ohhhh,

Now we get to circle around to one of Beef Supreme's reasons why aviation isn't the best career. Yay! Everyone who operates manned aircraft professionally has to fill out a medical form and we all have to answer this following question:

Have you ever experienced:

21.12 m. Mental disorders of any sort: depression, anxiety, etc

Everyone who wants to keep flying selects a negative response for that. If you select a positive response you lose your job and possibly your career. I very much doubt that anyone has voluntarily checked that box during their career as a professional pilot.

Now consider the rate of anxiety and depression in the US. In 2017 it affected 1 in 5 adults. So roughly 20% of the US population is affected by either anxiety and depression. This has slowly increased from about 20% to 40% during the Covid-19 crisis. Strangely zero pilots are affected. That's right during a crushing global pandemic which has severely impacted our careers, we are all totally fine.
Strangely we are all fine.

Yeah that checks. Back to work you monkeys!
 

trafficinsight

Well-Known Member
Ohhhh,

Now we get to circle around to one of Beef Supreme's reasons why aviation isn't the best career. Yay! Everyone who operates manned aircraft professionally has to fill out a medical form and we all have to answer this following question:

Have you ever experienced:

21.12 m. Mental disorders of any sort: depression, anxiety, etc

Everyone who wants to keep flying selects a negative response for that. If you select a positive response you lose your job and possibly your career. I very much doubt that anyone has voluntarily checked that box during their career as a professional pilot.

Now consider the rate of anxiety and depression in the US. In 2017 it affected 1 in 5 adults. So roughly 20% of the US population is affected by either anxiety and depression. This has slowly increased from about 20% to 40% during the Covid-19 crisis. Strangely zero pilots are affected. That's right during a crushing global pandemic which has severely impacted our careers, we are all totally fine.
I answer yes to that question every year so this isn't quite accurate depending on why you select yes, but I will say that the hoops they require you to jump through at least initially are enough to make anyone depressed.

Reform is badly needed and, yet, sadly ignored.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
I answer yes to that question every year so this isn't quite accurate depending on why you select yes, but I will say that the hoops they require you to jump through at least initially are enough to make anyone depressed.

Reform is badly needed and, yet, sadly ignored.
Ugh. I at least get to do the previously reported/no change mantra. Sorry you've had to go through all of this - both the reasons for answering the affirmative and hoops you've had to jump through after. It's awful.
 

trafficinsight

Well-Known Member
Ugh. I at least get to do the previously reported/no change mantra. Sorry you've had to go through all of this - both the reasons for answering the affirmative and hoops you've had to jump through after. It's awful.
Things are fine now and thats where I am too, though one event coming up sometime in the future will trigger it again for five years... and this is the "improved" method from 6 years ago.
 
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Autothrust Blue

Commander Air Group, BSG-75
Strangely zero pilots are affected.
At least one recent study strongly disagrees, and concluded depression (diagnosed or otherwise; one actually administered a validated depression assessment to a set of volunteers and uh, yikes) was at least as common in the pilot force in the United States as in the general population thereof.

“This is fine.”
 

BEEF SUPREME

Well-Known Member
At least one recent study strongly disagrees, and concluded depression (diagnosed or otherwise; one actually administered a validated depression assessment to a set of volunteers and uh, yikes) was at least as common in the pilot force in the United States as in the general population thereof.

“This is fine.”
FAA:

Pilots will certainly seek out help if they lose their job when they try and get help for depression and anxiety.


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