Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

I get emails on a regular basis from people who have been on medications in the past, on meds now or who have had bouts of depression somewhere in their medical history. The wording varies from person to person, but the question is always the same. “Should I not reveal the truth about my depression when going to the FAA Medical Examiner when applying for my FAA Medical?”

My answer is simple. TELL THE TRUTH! Honesty is always the best policy. Some people are worried that if they tell the truth they will not be able to obtain the medical certificate. In some cases this may be true. It is going to vary from case to case depending upon the circumstances. If someone is denied the medical then that is what will have to happen for now. There are just far too many risks in not being honest.

There are a couple of big risks that a person will take by not being honest on the application. First, the application is a federal document. If it is not answered properly there could be huge legal ramifications to face. I do not think anyone wants to go to court facing federal criminal charges. Secondly, there are liability issues that could come to light for not being truthful. Let me give an example of what I am referring to regarding liability issues. Lets say that someone is taking medications that are not authorized by the FAA and does not reveal that on the application. These could be meds that do not affect the person’s ability to operate an aircraft. If there was an accident, even if this person is not at fault, the fact that this person was on medications is going to surface. If there was anyone else injured in this accident the surviving family members of the pilot will be facing lawsuits. These liability issues would be the same for any falsification on the application, even if the person was not on meds.

I have gone over legal arguments as to why the form should be filled out honestly, now lets look at other reasons. It is always easier to back up the truth than it is a lie. Anytime someone lies they will have to tell another lie to back up the fist lie if they are caught. Where does it end? Telling the truth is the right thing to do.

Some people would argue that they will not be able to obtain their FAA Medical Certificate if they tell the truth. I say to them, “Then so be it.” If you do not get your medical then you do not get your medical.

I know there are many people who have dreamed their entire lives of being a pilot. I am one of those people. I was faced with a very difficult decision in 2008 myself when I went on medications. I could not renew my medical and be grounded or I cold lie on the application. I chose not to fly. Was this a difficult decision? Yes and no. Yes because I knew I would be out of a job. I was a pilot by profession. Losing my medical meant I would be unemployed. Also, I loved flying and I would no longer be able to fly.

On the other hand this was an easy decision for me because it was the right thing to do. My integrity is worth far more to me than any job or flying. I could bear being grounded and unemployed. But it would be unbearable to lose the respect of my wife and others who see me as an honest man.

Keep an eye on the sky!
Collin Hughes
The Prozac Pilot

Location:Farm Rd,Las Vegas,United States

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