Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

I noticed today that I was quoted in a story on Inside Edition regarding the situation with the Jet Blue pilot. First, I need to say that that quote came from an interview I did with Inside Edition in April of 2010 when the FAA changed its policy regarding antidepressants. Secondly, I need to say that I do not know the pilot in the Jet Blue incident or anything about his circumstances. I cannot say anything regarding this man. All I can say is that my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. I hope that whatever caused him to do what he did that he is treated fairly and receives the help he needs to allow him to cope with whatever situation he may find himself in. I have been asked by media outlets to comment on this situation. I was hesitant at first because I did not know how this could be twisted. However, I have consented to an interview with CNN and will be in Washington DC for an interview. My interview is going to be a general topic interview and a follow up to the 2010 story that CNN did on me when the FAA changed its policies. I have told CNN by phone that I cannot speak directly about the Jet Blue story. Keep an eye on the sky. Collin Hughes

6 Responses

  1. The reason medications are monitored in certain positions and for certain activities is to protect those who might be killed or injured by side effects. Since when did it become ok for people to lie about such things to protect their personal interests at the detriment of everyone else's safety?

  2. Saw your CNN interview.

    Yes, pilots are people, too…

    But the fact of the matter is: If you're on an antidepressant, you are under the influence of a mood altering drug which is not native to the brain's chemistry.

    If you pilot an air craft and you're on an anti-depressant, you should have your license revoked. Period.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    You are absolutely correct. That is why there are guidelines put into place to monitor someone who is taking medications in this position. Actually anyone who is on an antidepressant should be going through an ongoing followups with his or her doctor to ensure that the medications are doing what they are supposed to do.

    When a pilot first reports that he or she is going on an antidepressant (there are only four approved by the FAA) there is a mandatory grounding period of one year to ensure that the person is stable on the medication that he or she is on. Normally, when a person gets on the right dosage of the medication the side affects are going to manifest themselves within the first few weeks. Therefore, after the one year has passed things are very normal.

    Also, I never said that it is OK for someone to lie. As a matter of fact, I grounded myself when I was on medications because I knew it was the right thing to do.

    Thank you for posting.

    Keep an eye on the sky.

  4. newebhost,

    Thank you for posting. First let me point out that the reason for a person needing an antidepressant is due to the brain's chemistry being imbalanced to begin with. Depression is a physical illness that is caused by a chemical imbalance. Taking medication for this physical ailment is just like taking a medication for any other physical problem that a person may have. The guidelines put into place to monitor someone who is flying an aircraft on an approved medication is extremely stringent.

    Your comment is just like saying that if someone is on an antidepressant they should not be allowed to drive a car. Many more lives are endangered on the highways each day than there are in the air. Ten percent of the American population is on an antidepressant. Do we stop all depressed people from driving a car? Ask any mental health professional about pilots and antidepressants and see what their opinion is.

  5. Not true. There are no physical tests — blood test, X-ray, brain scan — that can prove the physical existence of a mental problem. And there are no chemical tests that can be done. In fact, prominent American psychiatrists are already walking away from the "chemical imbalance" theory, admitting that it was only a theory used to explain to the public what they themselves did not understand.

    Logically, then, it would be impossible to "re-balance" something that one doesn't even know is "unbalanced."

    Psych drugs are just like your average street drug, only pharmaceutical-grade, legal, and (in many cases) given at a reduced dosage.

    We all know or have heard of someone else who has freaked out while on drugs.

    Why should it surprise us when a pilot on antidepressants does the same thing?

  6. First, we do not know what caused Captain Osbon to act the way he did during this flight. There is no evidence that he was on antidepressants. There are several medical reasons that would cause someone to have a breakdown of this nature. Too many people are assuming that this was all due to the pilot being on medications.

    Now let's get to the rest of your post. There actually have been studies using PET scans that shows a significant difference in the brain of a person who suffers from depression and that of a person who does not. Therefore, there is evidence of a chemical imbalance that causes depression.

    I also know that there are two sides to every issue. There are some people who would argue that black is white and that white is black. You can find all the evidence you want on the internet in an attempt to prove either side of any issue.

    Your comments that medications are like an "average street drug" is absolutely ludicrous. When I was on medications I know what they did for me. These medications certainly did not make me react like some druggie on the street. These medications do not contain the types of narcotics that one buys on a street corner.

    My wife is a mental health professional. She is required to keep up on the latest developments in mental health. According to reputable professionals chemical imbalance is a valid explanation for depression and there are PET scans to prove it.

    Thank you for your post.

    Collin Hughes

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