Rescue workers at the Germanwings crash side in France in March 2015. Picture: AP
In this article I consulted in, describes the issue some pilots experience. Please do not be concerned to travel. Pilots, like any of us, may sometimes experience personal issues. The problem it seems is that Pilots, like many other careers, have issues letting management know they may need some temporary additional support.
I urge all Airlines to make mandatory Counselling sessions part of workplace health and welfare for all pilots. Their lifestyle, crazy hours, length of time away from home and relationship stress, can all add to their emotional difficulties. Regular Counselling can allow the pilots to debrief, manage emotional issues and continue in their role as pilots doing an incredible job keeping us all safe. They look after us, I wonder who is looking after them?
In 2015, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed a passenger jet into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.
The investigation that followed revealed the 27-year-old had been undergoing treatment for clinical depression. A relationship breakdown was the final straw.
When pilot Patrick Sonderheimer got up to use the toilet, Mr Lubitz locked the door and turned the Airbus A320 toward the mountains, accelerating until he hit the rocks.
Mr Sonderheimer could be heard on the black boxes screaming at Mr Lubitz to “open the damn door” before trying to beat his way through with an axe.
The tragedy prompted Harvard University’s school of public health to launch a study into the sensitive subject of airline pilot mental health.
Researchers surveyed 3485 professional pilots, and the results are shocking.
Nearly 14 per cent were considered depressed, while four per cent admitted to flying during a period when they thought they would be “better off dead”.
The paper concluded hundreds of pilots currently flying are managing depressive symptoms without treatment due to the fear of negative career impacts.
Dr Karen Phillip is an Australian Counsellor and Therapist has worked with a number of pilots.
She confirmed to news.com.au there is a stigma around mental health medication and treatment, and that pilots fear it will be viewed detrimentally.
“They think it means they’re unable to cope with the pressure of their job. That’s not the truth at all, they could be having relationship problems, or problems with their children,” Dr Phillip said.
“Their work hours are crazy, and they’re constantly sleep-deprived. They often have relationship difficulties simply because they’re not around.”
She said the best way to manage depression is with regular, confidential check-ups.
“Our society is very reactive. We wait for someone to go down, then get help. With a pilot that’s the worst thing to do, especially with hundreds of lives in their hands.”
On the face of things, Mr Lubitz was a fit, happy and healthy professional.
He enjoyed long-distance running, and competed regularly. He lived with his parents in a small town in Germany, and neighbours described him as “quiet” but “fun”.
Mr Lubitz passed a medical assessment with 100 per cent just two months earlier, but investigators found torn-up medical certificates at his home — including one declaring him unfit for work on the date of the tragedy.
However, while depression can be managed, Dr Phillip said under no circumstances should a pilot take the controls in a suicidal state.
“Suicidal thoughts happen only because the person is so deep in their dark hole, so lost, they have no way of knowing how to get out of it,” she told news.com.au.
“The first step is to recognise it, then go to a good therapist, who can help set steps to move them in a good direction. It’s treatable, but no — they shouldn’t fly while they’re working through that phase.”
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority said mental health is a high priority, adding they’ve just launched a series of new web pages about health.
“All pilots have to undergo regular medical checks — more often for commercial pilots and also more often for older private pilots,” a spokesman told news.com.au.
“Part of this medical assessment are psychological questions by the doctor.”
The Australian Federation of Air Pilots offers its members a substantial list of services, including psychological counselling and a welfare representative program.
“Overall, we prioritise the health and wellbeing of our pilots, and believe the best path to good mental health is one that provided non-stigmatised, accessible and professional support whenever and wherever our members might need it”president David Booth told news.com.au.
However, Dr Phillip said in her experience, these services aren’t always used.
She said the problem is two sided.
First, pilots are afraid of being stigmatised and damaging their careers.
Second, airlines are frightened to say “our pilots need help” due to the risk of negative public perception.
In a similar vein, the Harvard study expressed concerns over under reporting of “adverse” symptoms and incomplete records.
Researchers concluded that although current policies are improving screening and evaluation, the industry should increase support for preventive treatment.
With the use of VirtualHypnotherapy.com sessions to Remove Past Baggage, Decrease Anxiety and Abolish Habits can all certainly assist them and anyone to rebalance their life and deal with pressures far better. Pressure is now part of life, managing and alleviating this pressure helps so much. This combined with ongoing Counselling, if the issues are relationship related, can alleviate any overwhelming feeling and reduce fears of stigma so many experience. The truth is, any person strong enough to reach out to obtain the support and help they need, should be applauded. They are smart enough to know and understand that they can quickly remove those overwhelming pressures to move on with their life unimpeded.
Read News.com article here