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Mental health of pilots

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Mental health of pilots

Old 15th Dec 2016, 11:37
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Mental health of pilots

Hundreds of airline pilots are suicidal or thinking of self-harm, study finds | The Independent
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 11:47
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And yet we don't have a suicidal crash a'la Germanwings every day, so perhaps aviation is quite safe...
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 12:06
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Lubitz was a murderer, a mass killer. I think it was established that 80% of mass killers showed no signs of mental disorder in a large US study

There is a massive difference between people with depression who like the rest of the population suffer life events but would not harm a flea and a mass murderer like Lubitz who pre planned his evil deed.

Again the media trying to grab a headline
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 12:09
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Originally Posted by Pace View Post
Lubitz was a murderer, a mass killer. I think it was established that 80% of mass killers showed no signs of mental disorder in a large US study

There is a massive difference between people with depression who like the rest of the population suffer life events but would not harm a flea and a mass murderer who pre planned his evil deed
Pace, you are spot on. We shouldn't conflate depressive illness with intent to kill or harm others.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 12:41
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That is the statement of the year

But Psychopaths can be very hard to discover and it gives no credit to depressive illness to lump people like Lubitz under the same umbrella
His was premeditated mass murder
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 14:12
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Back to the study: Could the regular use of uppers and downers affect pilot's mental health? Like maybe interfering with hormones and such that control inner body processes?

Pilot's health must have been above average when they were selected and they end up with twice the mental problems rate of the average population?
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 15:09
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the study showed there was a need for airlines “to regularly assess all pilots’ mental health, so that they can identify any existing health problems and whether these could affect someone’s ability to fly”.

However she added: “Assumptions about risk shouldn't be made across the board for people with depression or any other illness, mental or physical.

“There will be pilots with experience of mental health problems who have flown safely for decades, and assessments should be made on a case by case basis.”

She said attitudes towards mental health could prevent people talking to those closest to them “let alone their employers”
And there in a nutshell lies the core of the problem. Who do you talk to ? your doctor has a confidentiality clause, and if you talk to your employer it will likely dismiss you , and your loss of licence insurance excludes mental illnesses.

And how do you want an employer to assess mental illness ? today it is a self signed declaration during Aeromedical checks , or answering basic questions : do you sleep well, do you have suicidal thoughts ? etc..

The situation today is exactly the same as before Germanwings.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 15:29
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I know nothing specific about Lubitz, but there's a big distinction to be drawn between someone who aims primarily to kill others (a murderer) and someone who kills themselves and in doing so takes a lot of other people with him - (murder-suicide).

You can also make a distinction between someone whose emotions are blunted because they are severely depressed - which might numb them to the distress of others and enable them to kill many other people even if this is not their primary intention - and a psychopath who has a longstanding personality trait such that they simply doesn't care about other people. But most psychopaths do care about themselves, so whilst it's possible that he was a psychopath this isn't my first assumption.

Was there something distinctive about him? Clearly: depression is common as can be, yet pilots hardly ever kill themselves and all their passengers as he did. The vast majority of pilots with depression need to be heard sympathetically and his actions have done nothing to further this cause.

Am I trying to be an apologist for him? No. But from what I've heard he clearly did have psychiatric issues and low mood. Ultimately what we want to be able to do is understand his state of mind sufficiently that the depressed pilots can seek help without fear of his stigma rubbing off on them, but we also need to detect people who are unstable enough that they might repeat his actions, and make sure they don't make it into a cockpit.

Ignoring psychiatric symptoms and throwing terms like 'psychopath' about without regard for their proper usage, doesn't seem to me to be helpful.

Last edited by abgd; 15th Dec 2016 at 18:45.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 15:49
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I think we know Simon Calder's jaundiced opinions on pilots in the past, for example claiming pilots were overpaid, even though he is, secondly is he able to interpret scientific reports, I think not. He is only really capable on commenting on pax issues and his experiences as a cleaner at LGW

I thought the response from both BALPA and Mind were good responses, based on the fact 40% of the general population suffers depression in any year, is Calder suggesting that we ground 40% of airline flights. Or could I say the PM of the UK (or Trump) on the balance of probabilities they may suffer depression or the influence of alcohol, are they capable to launch nuclear weapons.

I feel that the study that Calder refers to is academics try to make something out of Germanwings, when in fact as I see the primary causal factor was issues issues of his mental health in training not being flagged up, compounded with issues of disclosure in Germany to the licensing authority based on privacy.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 16:08
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There should be some clause regarding "confidentiality" between a Doctor and his/her patient whereby the Airline Medical Departments could be given a 'warning' that the pilot needs further investigation.
If that means they lose their job - tough luck - it's way better than what happened to Germanwings innocent passengers.
And, yes, I am a pilot with over 45 years experience.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 16:24
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They interviewed a commercial pilot on the national news this morning (the name slipped by me). He had voluntarily taken a leave from his job to get treatment for depression, gotten it under control and then went back to work. The point he was making was that the industry needs to stop stigmatizing people who seek mental treatment. Because that puts professionals in fear of their jobs and less willing to seek it.

Speaking as SLF, I'd rather fly with that guy than someone who has hidden their problems.

But on this side of the pond, we have an additional problem; The mental health treatment profession is under active attack by a bunch of self-styled and self-trained 'therapists'. Everyone from the Church of Scientology, the local minister or priest, or some pyramid-power Ramtha-channeling faith healers put themselves forward as better options to degreed and certified mental health professionals. It's an active battle for the hearts and minds of peoples minds. And quite frankly, I'm not certain that some of these 'alternative' mental health counselors aren't as bat- crazy as the people they are trying to help.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 16:43
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I can remember reading a book about the health of pilots which stated, in a semi-jocular fashion, that somewhere around 12% of those holding a commercial licence were, technically speaking, clinically mad!

The book is in my library somewhere (I think) and I shall try to dig it out but it might take some days.

In any event, the book dated back to the 1970s and I don't think the 12% who were considered to be clinically mad have caused very much damage in the interim.

Personally speaking, I think Simon Calder is a few laps short of a Grand Prix and he is, without doubt, a fully-qualified sciolist when it comes to pontificating on aviation matters.
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Old 15th Dec 2016, 18:51
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Commercial Aviation Pilot Suicides

Everyone remebers GermanWings, but there have been others - Japan Airlines, Egypt Air, Silk Air, Royal Air Maroc, and in 2013 LAM Mozambique. And there have been cases, discussed on PPRuNe, where pilots on commercial flights have suffered from mental health issues during flight.

Perhaps a nuanced discussion of the issues would be helpful.
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Old 16th Dec 2016, 08:02
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Full text of study: Airplane pilot mental health and suicidal thoughts: a cross-sectional descriptive study via anonymous web-based survey
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Old 16th Dec 2016, 08:51
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A web based survey.

I wonder if you are more likely to respond if you are suffering a period of depression when you are asked to undertake a survey about depression?

I often feel that the authors of these surveys go looking for the Answers they want to find rather than the whole truth.

Is Calder of sound mind, he seems to know a lot about nothing. I wish some one would pay me lots of money to talk dross about aviation, I could look like I knew what I was talking about if I wore my uniform.
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Old 16th Dec 2016, 09:09
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Council Van, I think you are right about authors going after predetermined answers. This post by a serial critic of half baked research papers, and the half baked media coverage they get, takes this so called survey to pieces.

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Old 16th Dec 2016, 09:44
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It's interesting the way the media pick on pilots when it comes to psychological or psychiatric problems. It is of note of which professionals are most likely to be psychopaths.

3.Media (TV/radio)
7.Police officers

I suppose Trump fits with 1, and 3 and 6 fits with the likes of Calder, Learmount etc, and I assume 4 includes estate agents, car salesmen and double glazing salesman.

Last edited by Homsap; 16th Dec 2016 at 09:45. Reason: Typo
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Old 16th Dec 2016, 09:49
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Yer know, since maths and science became too hard there are now hundreds of graduate psychologists looking for work.

Pilots should all have their heads read by retards who cannot even spell their own degree (personal experience) as part of SOPs.

* edited to say retards is the wrong word, complete f$#ing morons is more accurate.
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Old 16th Dec 2016, 09:55
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Its the same old story that the qualities required for people to achieve high or specific positions are often the worst mental traits to have when they are there.

The problem the pilot community have is profile, I seriously doubt if aircrew have significantly more or less mental health issues than the general population, why should they. Flying plane into a mountain deliberately is more 'interesting' than the whims of a bank CEO or senior exec who decides its ok to fiddle the Libor rate or buy up bonds based on failed mortgages or a million other decisions which don't make the papers.

Every one in every job or profession has at some stage made a fairly significant error but only on the flight deck is that likely to cause the deaths of numerous people in spectacular and frightening fashion
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Old 16th Dec 2016, 10:04
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It's interesting the way the media pick on pilots when it comes to psychological or psychiatric problems. It is of note of which professionals are most likely to be psychopaths.
Having psychopathology (a general term for psychiatric disorder) doesn't mean that you're a psychopath (something quite specific).
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