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March 12, 2024

Fifty Aviation Advocates Deliver Mental Health Reform Briefings to Dozens of Congressional Offices on Capitol Hill

The first event of its kind was organized by the Pilot Mental Health Campaign in response to growing concern over the FAA’s archaic mental health policies


Washington, D.C.—More than fifty national advocates for aeromedical reform visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday March 12, 2024, delivering dozens of policy briefings addressing aviation’s growing mental health crisis to congressional offices on both sides of the aisle. National nonprofit group Pilot Mental Health Campaign (PMHC) organized the day of advocacy in anticipation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s public release of policy recommendations, expected soon after the conclusion of its official Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) by March 30. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and mental health practitioners shared personal stories of harm caused by the current aeromedical system, and pledged to work with Congress and the FAA to reform the outdated and punitive system.


U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) welcomed the advocacy group to Washington in person, thanking members of the Pilot Mental Health Campaign for their leadership.


“While I do not have an aviation background, I became passionate about pilot mental health care when, within about 6 months, two completely separate families in the Chicagoland area shared stories of losing young student pilots to suicide,” said Casten. 


“Pilots and air traffic controllers face an extraordinary amount of pressure in their roles. Anyone struggling with mental health problems should be offered resources and support instead of the threat of losing their wings. We must prevent families of pilots from experiencing these tragedies. I’m supportive and optimistic about the work being done through the FAA’s mental-health-focused ARC, and that any legislation can be complementary to those efforts.”


Advocacy day participants came from a variety of backgrounds, including experienced commercial pilots, Certified Flight Instructors, veterans, students at nationally ranked aviation schools, and mental health advocates. They also included aviators with significant media platforms: EAA Radio commentator Fareed Guyot; @cheesepilot, a TikTok content creator with millions of cumulative views; and Pilots Pandemic podcast hosts Maddie Miller and Emma Laczko.


The FAA has been under increasing scrutiny from high-profile incidents of pilots experiencing mental events while in the air, as well as a growing body of evidence that the FAA’s aeromedical certification system may actually lead pilots to avoid healthcare. In February 2024, dozens of representatives signed a detailed letter to FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker, which urged the FAA to take action by:

  • Modernizing mental health protocols to better support aviators seeking treatment.
  • Resolving distrust, frustration, and uncertainty between the FAA and aviation community.
  • Addressing lengthy wait times for medical certificate application reviews, during which time aviators are generally required to remain grounded without pay.

“With air travel hitting all-time domestic highs, policymakers across the country know that our economy depends on a safe and reliable aviation industry,” said PMHC Founder and Executive Director Brian Bomhoff. “Our goal is to not only update the existing system to modern clinical standards, but also to establish a new framework of support and transparency that puts pilot and passenger safety first.”


In December 2023, PMHC attended the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)’s daylong roundtable focused on mental health in aviation. At the event, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy highlighted research showing that mental health conditions were being severely underreported in aviation, and called for a paradigm shift in the aeromedical system to support mental health care as a way to improve public safety.


“No one - NO one should have to think twice about their job before seeking help. And yet here we are today because that's not currently the case in aviation. It's somewhat of an open secret that the current rules incentivize people to either lie about their medical history when it comes to mental health or avoid seeking help in the first place… In aviation, you are in effect punished for following the rules around disclosure… And I'm very concerned about the safety consequences.” Chair Homendy remarked. 


PMHC shares the NTSB’s concerns over the FAA’s current approach to mental health. Tuesday’s advocacy day was a sign that pilots are ready to bring this issue out of the shadows of stigma and push for a better future for America’s aviators. 

About PMHC

The Pilot Mental Health Campaign (PMHC) is the first and only advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to reforming the broken American aeromedical system and building a safe, effective, and modern system that supports the mental health and wellbeing of American pilots. Established by aviators, legal experts, and mental health professionals, PMHC collaborates with industry stakeholders, mental health experts, and policymakers to drive change. For more information, visit



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