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Pilot Mental Health- Are We Tough Enough

Matthew Okeeffe
Royal Flying Doctor Service , Adelaide, Australia



Matthew has worked in aviation for the past 11 years, the last 7 years being with the Royal Flying Doctor Service Central Operations in Adelaide as a line pilot. He is the Welfare director for the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and is on the Management Committee of the HIMS Australia Advisory Group.


Pilot mental health - are we tough enough?
Of course we are!  Are we?
Pilots experience the stressors of life like all other professionals.
We work in a high stress environment, depending on individual coping strategies.
In light of recent accidents and incidents (such as the Germanwings incident) the importance of “are you ok” definitely rings true for aeromedical pilots.
Again, we are all human. We enjoy the release of dopamine, but are aware of professional standards that are required of us.
Life stressors can become overwhelming. No person picks up their first drink and says “I want to die an alcoholic.” No person deliberately turns to drugs.?

As an industry that relies on our medical certification to hold our license, we are very protective of what we tell medical professionals. This is often because of fear of losing our livelihood and our love of practicing our flying profession. All professionals can be affected by mental health conditions and this can impact on their work.
Is the industry open to assisting pilots in recovery?

Come with me on this journey of opening our eyes to the truth behind addiction and mental health issues within aviation, as we explore ways to be more open and honest with each other, removing the façade we hide behind



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