FLYING Magazine

An expert committee struck by the FAA on pilot mental health is recommending that pilots be allowed to get “talk therapy” from mental health professionals without having to disclose it in their flight medical.

The Aviation Medical Clearances Rulemaking Committee has submitted its 69-page report to the agency and its first recommendation (of 24) is aimed at eliminating the fear pilots have of losing their tickets due to actually trying to fix a medical problem.

As it stands, pilots with the kinds of struggles that about 50 percent of all people face in their lifetime have three basic options: Get help and risk their certificates, lie about getting help and risk losing their certificates and not getting help to avoid that risk.

The committee says the FAA operates on the assumption that those who seek non-pharmacological help with mental health may not be safe to fly. “However, not only is there limited data to support this view, but there is also robust data to the contrary,” the report says. It says simply talking to someone shouldn’t be a reporting requirement. There are also recommendations to find “non-punitive pathways” for pilots seeking help for depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and revised training for AMEs.

The agency announced it has received the report but didn’t comment on its contents.

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reviewing recommendations to help break down barriers that prevent pilots and air traffic controllers from reporting mental health issues. The recommendations were provided by the Mental Health and Aviation Medical Clearances Rulemaking Committee, formed by the FAA in December 2023 to study the issue,” the agency said in a statement. “The FAA will determine next steps after reviewing the recommendations.”

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on AVweb.

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