The AFAP's Welfare Director Matthew O'Keeffe attended the Aviation Medical Society of Victoria's meeting to present to members on Saturday 2 March 2019, at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.
Aviation professionals and doctors from around Australia were in attendance speaking to members on medical issues currently affecting the aviation industry.
Designated Aviation Medical Examiner (DAME) Dr John Parkes introduced the AFAP's Welfare Director, Matthew O'Keeffe who gave a presentation to members on How Pilots are Helping Themselves.
Throughout the day, other presentations included Dr Kirsten Herbert speaking on Venous Thromboembolism and long haul travel - the current management and controversies, Dr Matthew Naughton addressing obstructive sleep apnoea and Heather Fitzpatrick from the ATSB giving an investigation update: AvMed themes.
Peer Support Programs as a win-win for companies and aeromedical professionals
FO Matt OKeeffe
Strong well-structured peer support programs are essential for aeromedical companies if they want to care for their staff and see them—and their companies thrive. The need of aeromedical professionals can often be invisible, given that these professionals are in the business of caring for others and are often reluctant to seek help for themselves when they need it. Peer support programs address this need by providing a first port of call for aeromedical professionals to find support. Well-structured peer support programs enable trained peer support representatives to provide assistance, advice and referrals to staff and to liaise with management.
These peer support programs provide great opportunities for partnership: staff and management working together to create a culture where seeking help is allowed and encouraged. We can work to end the stigma associated with seeking help, particularly for mental health issues, and provide staff with the support that will allow them to recover from any distress or illness within the best possible time-frame. This is a win-win for staff and management! We can also work together to contribute to the creation of better policies and regulation within the Industry, humanising the industry so that those who care for others are also cared for.
We also address some of the practical issues of implementing and running a best-practice peer support program. We consider questions such as: how can we best resource and meet the requirements of a peer support program, taking advantage of in-kind support including staff time? How can we collectively meet the concerns of peers and management? How can we have proactive approaches to staff wellbeing, rather than just reactive, to prevent adverse outcomes and to address issues before they become major problems and sensational headlines?
In considering these questions, we explain how the Peer Support model works, and how every person can be involved. Outlining the ways each person can connect peers or employees requiring assistance with resources and programs to empower them to recover well and contribute to their companies as productive and valued aeromedical professionals.