Last year an unexpected life event happened that I could not process on my own. As pilots we tend to try and figure out everything on our own or we just put it on the back burner until the next pairing. I really wanted to ask for help, but did not know where to turn. Mental health is a sensitive topic in our industry, but at the end of the day we are all humans. We are all flawed in our own ways. I was able to reach out to the ALPA pilot assistance program at a time when I had nowhere else to turn. The team helped me immensely and put me on a path where I could return to flying as soon as I was healthy enough without any judgement. I would highly encourage any pilot to reach out even if you just need someone to talk to. It may be a hard step, but it is the first step to figuring out how to move forward, which is what I needed.   

 The pilot assistance chair for our union offered valuable help while I dealt with mental health difficulties in the height of the pandemic. They gave clarity on roles, expectations, as well as resources available to me. They offered an understanding ear, regularly checking up on my progress, and connected me with others under the ALPA umbrella who had helped pilots through the same process or experienced it themselves. My journey of healing and gaining resilience was made significantly easier due to having a true advocate while on leave.     

 Pilot Assistance supported me through a time of personal and mental health challenges. It was a relief having someone to talk to, knowing I was not alone. Pilot Assistance helped me find a way through that challenging time in my life.   

 My first encounter with Pilot Assistance came because of a late-night phone call from a colleague experiencing a crisis while a long way from home. I was able to contact our PA team on their behalf who, in turn, reached out and assured the pilot that all was being done to provide relief from flying duties, return them home and put them in touch with the various professionals that would return them to health and to the line.   

 I found myself in a very vulnerable state both mentally and physically. Nothing I tried was bringing about the needed changes. I reached out to my union’s Pilot Assistance Program and was given the support, guidance, and tools I needed to bring about the required transformation. Their professionalism and discretion ensured I was able to focus on the solution and not the stigma.