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Pilot Mental Health - Impacts of job

Old 03-18-2024, 12:05 AM
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Default Pilot Mental Health - Impacts of job

Hi all

I'm sure we all know that our job isn't overly conduvice to a healthy lifestyle. As a UK based skipper of over 10 years & big interest in mental health, I spent the last few months putting together lots of facts, stats and information about how the job role affects airline pilots mental & physical health. The article has been published by a site here https://pilotbible.com/airline-pilot-mental-health/

It's something I really hope can move the needle for improving pilots mental health. It's hopefully a good comprehensive break down of everything that impacts us as pilots. If any current or ex airline pilots have anything they think is missing from it or would make a nice addition, would you be so kind as to discuss below so it can be added?

Thanks!
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Old 03-30-2024, 04:46 AM
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Interesting site. Good that you're saying all the quiet parts out loud. It's quite absurd that the FAA and other regulatory agencies like to pretend that the lifestyle doesn't cause depression and anxiety, among many other issues.
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Old 03-30-2024, 06:38 AM
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Incredibly depressing doing what one loves, making a ridiculous sum of money for sitting on one's ass for hours on end, and working tightly controlled hours with built-in fatigue protections, based on circadian rhythm.

It's a wonder we don't all have PTSD. What could possibly be more stressful and anxiety-producing than flying from A to B? Oh, the hardship.

Thank god someone has finally blown the lid off this pressure-cooker. Perhaps we can all take a step back now and let that callous heal on the one, solitary finger that we use to press the buttons on the FMC, and engage the autopilot.
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Old 03-30-2024, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnBurke View Post
Incredibly depressing doing what one loves, making a ridiculous sum of money for sitting on one's ass for hours on end, and working tightly controlled hours with built-in fatigue protections, based on circadian rhythm.

It's a wonder we don't all have PTSD. What could possibly be more stressful and anxiety-producing than flying from A to B? Oh, the hardship.

Thank god someone has finally blown the lid off this pressure-cooker. Perhaps we can all take a step back now and let that callous heal on the one, solitary finger that we use to press the buttons on the FMC, and engage the autopilot.
I think a lot of the stresses of this job are external. (Family, time gone, medical issues, job security, constant scrutiny, etc). I think the flying part like you said is the easiest.
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Old 03-30-2024, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnBurke View Post
Incredibly depressing doing what one loves, making a ridiculous sum of money for sitting on one's ass for hours on end, and working tightly controlled hours with built-in fatigue protections, based on circadian rhythm.

It's a wonder we don't all have PTSD. What could possibly be more stressful and anxiety-producing than flying from A to B? Oh, the hardship.

Thank god someone has finally blown the lid off this pressure-cooker. Perhaps we can all take a step back now and let that callous heal on the one, solitary finger that we use to press the buttons on the FMC, and engage the autopilot.
If it wasn't an issue then people wouldn't be popping up with issues, but there are. A portion of society will succumb to some sort of emotional or mental distress during the course of their lifetime. It has zero to do with how much money they make, how lazy they get to be, how much they love their job etc. All sorts of illnesses exist and always will, to include the brain and nervous system. Then there is addiction which is another animal entirely. Hopefully the stigma behind these issues will fade away sooner rather than later, especially with new generations replacing the old. This will result in pilots being more willing to admit to having issues and seeking help (AND REPORTING TO THE FAA) as required. This "you have an awesome job, make a ton of money for pushing buttons so what do you have to be depressed about" just keeps the stigma alive. Stop it already.
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Old 03-30-2024, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by WhisperJet View Post
I think a lot of the stresses of this job are external. (Family, time gone, medical issues, job security, constant scrutiny, etc). I think the flying part like you said is the easiest.
Exacty. People get sick, divorced, children or parents pass away, spouses have affairs. There are too many things to mention that can have an affect on anyone's mental well being (including pilots). Then there are definitely the stressors of the job itself. The FAA forming the mental health committee is a step in the right direction.
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Old 03-30-2024, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by PilotdadCJDCMD View Post
If it wasn't an issue then people wouldn't be popping up with issues, but there are. A portion of society will succumb to some sort of emotional or mental distress during the course of their lifetime. It has zero to do with how much money they make, how lazy they get to be, how much they love their job etc. All sorts of illnesses exist and always will, to include the brain and nervous system. Then there is addiction which is another animal entirely. Hopefully the stigma behind these issues will fade away sooner rather than later, especially with new generations replacing the old. This will result in pilots being more willing to admit to having issues and seeking help (AND REPORTING TO THE FAA) as required. This "you have an awesome job, make a ton of money for pushing buttons so what do you have to be depressed about" just keeps the stigma alive. Stop it already.
Flying, flying jobs, and aviation don't cause mental issues, depression, and anxiety. External forces do, and should be addressed and treated, but let's not be so prissy as to pretend (and expect anyone to believe) that this is a job of suffering and hardship. It's not.

Especially not airline flying.

However, having flown in combat conditions, and peacetime, having flown into raging forest fires in tight, smoked-in canyons, having towed banners, flown jumpers, jumped, done corporate, charter, ambulance, cargo, passengers, 135 and 121, ample governent flying, international operations in every continent but antarctica and to every country; having taught in flight and classrooms and in simulators; having turned wrenches in sub-zero temperatures with icicles on my nose and chin, and inside wings in fuel cells during record high temperature streaks in the desert, and having flown into thunderstorms over and over for the sake of science, ad infinitum, plus a few other things, don't try to convince me that this "life of hardship" is anything but a privileged existence. To say otherwise is utter bull ****.

You appear to say otherwise, don't you?

Go live a life of poverty, try working for a living, visit a land of pestilence, famine, and suffering, and then come backt to tell me how hard it is working in a first world airline or aviation environment. The heart bleeds not.

Keep saying otherwise, though.

As for having mental, emotional, or other conditions that are quite real, whether stemming from combat or divorce or car wrecks or financial strain, or perhaps the haunting of a child's dying tears or the countless starving one was unable to help (been there, for all), help is available and needed. If one needs help, get it. If one is unable to fly as a result of these stresses, or of any other condition, affliction, or hardship, then don't fly. It's no different than having a limiting other medical condition.

Aviation doesn't cause addiction, nor neurological conditions, but should such exist among the certificated and employed, or those seeking to be, then those must get the help they need. Don't blame it on the industry. In fact, forget blame, get the help. Don't pretend, however, that it stems from flying the line.
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Old 03-30-2024, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnBurke View Post
Flying, flying jobs, and aviation don't cause mental issues, depression, and anxiety. External forces do, and should be addressed and treated, but let's not be so prissy as to pretend (and expect anyone to believe) that this is a job of suffering and hardship. It's not.

Especially not airline flying.

However, having flown in combat conditions, and peacetime, having flown into raging forest fires in tight, smoked-in canyons, having towed banners, flown jumpers, jumped, done corporate, charter, ambulance, cargo, passengers, 135 and 121, ample governent flying, international operations in every continent but antarctica and to every country; having taught in flight and classrooms and in simulators; having turned wrenches in sub-zero temperatures with icicles on my nose and chin, and inside wings in fuel cells during record high temperature streaks in the desert, and having flown into thunderstorms over and over for the sake of science, ad infinitum, plus a few other things, don't try to convince me that this "life of hardship" is anything but a privileged existence. To say otherwise is utter bull ****.

You appear to say otherwise, don't you?

Go live a life of poverty, try working for a living, visit a land of pestilence, famine, and suffering, and then come backt to tell me how hard it is working in a first world airline or aviation environment. The heart bleeds not.

Keep saying otherwise, though.

As for having mental, emotional, or other conditions that are quite real, whether stemming from combat or divorce or car wrecks or financial strain, or perhaps the haunting of a child's dying tears or the countless starving one was unable to help (been there, for all), help is available and needed. If one needs help, get it. If one is unable to fly as a result of these stresses, or of any other condition, affliction, or hardship, then don't fly. It's no different than having a limiting other medical condition.

Aviation doesn't cause addiction, nor neurological conditions, but should such exist among the certificated and employed, or those seeking to be, then those must get the help they need. Don't blame it on the industry. In fact, forget blame, get the help. Don't pretend, however, that it stems from flying the line.
Nobody is saying airline jobs cause mental illness. It is one piece of a very complicated puzzle. Most of us have worked for a living, and a significant portion of us have served our country and experienced things that should not be experienced. Because you become and airline pilot and make 300K a year to turn the autopilot on does not erase somebodies past life and experiences. There are phisiological and mental stresses that being a part 121 pilot encompasses, everything on the site that OP posts is valid. From jet lag, to altitude, to endless hotels. It all has an affect, nothing wrong with acknowledging that and studying it.
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Old 03-30-2024, 03:22 PM
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Itís not the job that causes anxiety and depression, itís the lifestyle associated with it. Inconsistent sleep/wake times, disruption to circadian rhythm, poor diet and lack of exercise are all major contributors to depression and anxiety and there is a lot of good scientific data to support it. Add in a few interpersonal issues at home and youíve got a pilot at risk of chronic depression. I always make it a priority to get good food, sleep and exercise on layovers, but some trips have consistently short layovers with at least one circadian swap. A disruption as simple as that can mess up your psyche for a few days, especially if you do a few of these types of trips back to back. I love my job and wouldnít ever want to do anything else, but Iím also keenly aware of the physical toll this lifestyle takes.
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Old 03-30-2024, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by PilotdadCJDCMD View Post
Nobody is saying airline jobs cause mental illness. It is one piece of a very complicated puzzle. Most of us have worked for a living, and a significant portion of us have served our country and experienced things that should not be experienced. Because you become and airline pilot and make 300K a year to turn the autopilot on does not erase somebodies past life and experiences. There are phisiological and mental stresses that being a part 121 pilot encompasses, everything on the site that OP posts is valid. From jet lag, to altitude, to endless hotels. It all has an affect, nothing wrong with acknowledging that and studying it.
"Jet lag" doesn't cause a debilitating mental or emotional condition. Nor do "endless hotels."

You may have missed the assertion and point of the original post in this thread (the subject of the thread), if you say that "nobody is saying airline jobs cause mental illness." It seems that's exactly what the original poster said:

Originally Posted by Pilot1001 View Post
Hi all
I'm sure we all know that our job isn't overly conduvice to a healthy lifestyle. As a UK based skipper of over 10 years & big interest in mental health, I spent the last few months putting together lots of facts, stats and information about how the job role affects airline pilots mental & physical health.
What's the longest you've ever spent in "endless hotels," that's caused such hardship?
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