Waivers for Mental Disorders in the Aviation Components of the Armed Services: Recommendations for Improving Evidence-Based Decisions and Aviator Return to Duty
U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory Fort Rucker United States
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Aviation personnel in the Armed Services may develop mental health disorders that compromise the safety and performance of flying military aircraft. The timely treatment of mental health disorders results in the reduction of symptoms and allows personnel to return to flying once symptom-free. The Psychiatric Waivers sections of the Armed Services Guides describe the conditions under which waivers can be sought for aviators to return to work following treatment for different mental health disorders. The present report provides recommendations for improving the quality and usability of these guides by comparing the guides from the different services on the extent to which they incorporate recent research on the prevalence and treatment of different mental disorders, standardizes the information required for waivers for different mental health problems, provides justification for the amount of time aviators need to be free of symptoms to submit a waiver, allows aviators to fly while taking psychotropic medications, and provides information on the number of aviators with different mental health problems and whether waivers were granted for the problems.