Understanding Collegiate Flight Students' Perceptions and Realities of Depression and Anxiety

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Grant Boyd
Timm Bliss


As a result of recent incidents and other circumstances, shared questions and potential problems related to mental health and aviation have surfaced within collegiate aviation programs. The purpose of this study is to provide a better understanding of collegiate aviators' attitudes towards mental health in aviation, how they manage their mental health, how these practices may transition into their flying careers, and whether the current FAA aeromedical standards are professionally written to protect these and other aviators. The researchers conducted a mixed methods study to identify a common knowledge base of collegiate flight students' perceptions and realities related to depression and anxiety. Study participants were bachelor's degree seeking flight students from University Aviation Association (UAA) member collegiate flight programs. The received responses were analysed through the perspective of four research questions. In summary, gathered responses indicated that students believe there is a perceived benefit to not disclosing or ignoring mental health and fitness issues, safeguarding their own mental health is one of their primary concerns, and there is a considerable number who would leave the aviation industry if they could no longer fly. Additionally, most students agree that change would be beneficial, as it relates to the current FAA medical certification process. 

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