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Mental health screening on Aviation Health Conference agenda

Added on the 3rd October 2017

The Aviation Health conference gets underway in London today, Tuesday 3 October 2017, with Professor Neil Greenberg returning as one of the conference speakers, bringing his expertise in occupational mental health.

This year he will focus on screening for psychological health - a technique that may be used both to ensure that someone is fit for a particular task, (e.g. piloting a plane) or to assess whether they have been affected by a particular exposure, for example a near miss incident which could have had serious consequences.

Professor Greenberg said: “Whilst organisations that make use of psychological screening processes intend them to reduce the burden of mental ill-health, and in doing so to reduce the likelihood that associated functional impairment will lead to safety concerns, the evidence into the validity of these techniques is only infrequently researched. What research there is, some of it being of a high quality, shows that within organisations psychological health screening is unlikely to be helpful. I will discuss the evidence for this view at the conference.

“There is, however, lots of research into the benefit of providing psychological support through peer support programmes, particularly where people are working in predictably high-risk roles and environments; confidentially carried out psychological monitoring may also have a role. Peer support and psychological monitoring were two of the recommendations by the taskforce reviewing the tragic Germanwings plane crash in the Alps in March 2015. I believe that carefully carried out these approaches may add a degree of safely but unless the implemented programmes are based on good evidence, and staff’s confidentiality concerns are addressed, their utility is likely to be significantly limited.

“I am looking forward to the event and speaking to aviation professionals about what the evidence shows.”


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