Destigmatization and NonpunitiveReporting Keys to Success
As aviation safety experts from across the industry meet today at the Navigating Mental Health in Aviation Summit to discuss the current system for evaluating mental fitness, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) called for changes in the way the federal government approaches the issue of mental illness in the aviation sector and vowed to work collaboratively to change the outdated system.
“The United States can—and must—do more to support pilots and all aviation workers when it comes to mental health issues,” said ALPA president Capt. Jason Ambrosi. “For nearly 50 years, ALPA has led a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy work environment for pilots, and no one is more committed to enhancing the mental health support our industry provides the aviation workforce.”
ALPA outlined a number of steps the federal government can take to improve the current system, including:
- Developing a worker-education campaign to destigmatize mental health, explain the process from diagnosis through recovery, and encourage workers to seek help early.
- Breaking down barriers that discourage aviation workers from seeking help and, for those who do seek treatment, improving the process for them to safely and expeditiously return to work when able.
- Establishing a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-funded national peer-support training program that would train peers to confidentially discuss concerns and connect with resources.
ALPA also pledged its full support and collaboration or expertise with the FAA’s upcoming Mental Health Aviation Rulemaking Committee, and urged the Agency to include aviation aeromedical experts; be charged with making recommendations for reporting, testing, and treatment of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression; and make all counseling without a diagnosis nonreportable to encourage pilots to seek help early without fear of risking their medical certificate and livelihood, while advancing a just safety culture.
“Protecting the safety of airline passengers, crews, and cargo is the foundation of ALPA’s work. By working with labor, government, and industry, we can make great strides in expanding mental health resources for pilots and other aviation workers and improving the outdated protocols for reporting, testing, and treatment,” added Ambrosi.