Mental Health Services Crucial for All Pilots

Here’s where aviators can turn for support—and why it’s important when the struggle with identity underlies any illness.

The best message for any pilot facing mental health concerns is that you are not alone—and there are numerous resources to tap into. [File photo: iStock]

Mental health for pilots remains touch-and-go. As we’ve investigated in prior FLYING special features, securing timely and confidential counsel regarding any issues you may face can be a challenge as we work to combat preconceived notions about what it means to live with depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.

For people who struggle with their own preconceived notions of society’s norms, such as those in the LGBTQ+ community, acceptance of identity is the primary problem, and can amplify any mental health challenges. Society's rules, by definition, still can be non-accepting. So, it’s not a surprise that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that a significant portion of the LBGTQ+ community struggles with mental health concerns.

Finding Resources

The best message for any pilot facing mental health concerns is that you are not alone—and there are numerous resources to tap into, including those focusing on particular LGBTQ+ needs. In addition to the local chapters of NAMI that are available, look into the following sources for more information.

The National Gay Pilots Association hosts an entire section on medical issues on its site, and provides peer support for pilots in the community, as well as allies.

The Air Line Pilots Association includes a committee and a special section of its site devoted to supporting mental health, and specifically the needs of its LGBTQ+ members. 

The Trevor Project focuses on the needs of youth 25 years of age and younger and aims to provide suicide prevention resources in response to the estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (ages 13-24) each year who contemplate suicide in the U.S.

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PLAG) offers peer-to-peer meetings and support to allies and families of those in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Help is not far away. If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español:1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: dial 711 then1-800-273-8255) or theCrisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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