International Journal of Aviation Sciences (IJAS)


What makes the stigma surrounding pilots with mental health issues an important issue? Until recently, stigma was of minor concern. There were plenty of pilots without issues. Pilots with weaknesses had their careers cut short, if they let it be known that they had a psychological condition. So the numbers of pilots reporting psychological conditions were few. It was simple. Refrain from telling on yourself and you are allowed to fly. Tell on yourself and you suffer the consequences of stigma and maybe a shortened career. Stigma is similar to bullying. It creates a hostile work environment for those affected. Only clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, and close friends know that pilots are afraid of exposing their weakness. Few Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) know that those they examine have psychological conditions, because item 47 Psychiatric on the FAA 8500-8 was answered “normal.” It has taken two very disconnected events to change how we view mental health issues among pilots.

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