What is Aviation Psychiatry?

Aviation Psychiatry is "based on the potential effect that an individual with psychiatric symptoms or condition may have on safety of flight and mission accomplishment.  Unlike other clinical areas, the unique environment of aviation does not directly effect psychiatric conditions other than present a unique set of stressors.

The basic evaluation and treatment of all individuals who present with a symptom that may relate to a psychiatric condition should be based on the general standard of care for assessment of these conditions.

The unique aspect of aerospace psychiatry lies in the differing disposition of individuals when diagnosed with certain conditions, with a higher standard applied than for a “fit for full duty and suitable for service” disposition under general duty."  This was written by Capt Wear-Finkle in  this online article.
In my own clinical practice, I deal mainly with the nexus between mental health, people employed by the aviation industry and their families and human factors in aviation.  In practice, Aviation Psychiatry does not only comprise of assessing and treating the mental health needs of pilots, but it deals with the entire intersection between the emotional and mental health needs people related to the aviation industry, and the safe and effective delivery of the occupational duties.

The aviation industry is unique in the challenges that it poses to flight crews and their families.  Shift work and prolonged absences from home, together with jet lag due to frequent shifts in time zones, sleep deprivation and the unnatural forced proximity to strangers all exact a toll on our coping mechanisms and challenge our ability to maintain functional human relationships.

My own practice addresses these stresses associated with coping, safety and survival and deals with the stress that emanate from workload as well as personal problems that emanate from this disruption to normal personal relationships.  These are sometimes accentuated by usual problems that we may have in everyday life.


Over the last seven years, I have built up a unique insight into the challenges of aviation psychiatry in Australasia.  I have been working with a large regional airline and I have seen and assessed many aviators, airline employees and their families.

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