Two landmark accidents invigorated the discussion regarding pilot mental health. Other incidents may also have a mental health component that is related to, but not the direct cause of, the event. It is suspected that these “other incidents” are much more commonplace and while not catastrophic, erode safety. Depression and anxiety are two commonly occurring mental health concerns. Research indicates that a considerable portion of the U. S. population suffers from some form of mental health issue. Most go undiagnosed and untreated. A similar rate of occurrence appears to be found within the airline pilot population. The stigma of mental health may lead many to not seek treatment. This may be especially true for pilots who face the potential loss of their medical certificate or complications in maintaining medical certification. As a result of discussions regarding pilot mental health, the FAA is now providing enhanced mental health screening guidance to designated aviation medical examiners. Additionally, employers and labor organizations are being encouraged to implement and improve pilot assistance programs better suited to helping pilots who may be suffering from mental health issues. The availability and effectiveness of these programs varies. Ultimately, removing the stigma of mental health in the greater population and improving the understanding of mental health within the aviation medical community may be necessary to encourage more pilots who have mental health concerns to seek treatment. This approach would have the most significant effect on aviation safety.
Scholarly Commons Citation
DeHoff, M. C.,
Cusick, S. K.
Mental Health in Commercial Aviation - Depression & Anxiety of Pilots.
International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace,