Do you ever call a MAYDAY on your mental well-being?

We are all familiar with the term "Mayday". We use it to inform ATC that we are in distress and, that, whilst dealing with the cause of the distress, we require urgent assistance from them.

Emergencies are trained regularly during our simulator recurrency and conversion training. Through practice and careful analysis of our performance we become trained so that our actions are almost instinctive and our confidence in effectively handling an abnormal event is reinforced.

But what about the psychological effects to significant stresses in our work situation or personal space that directly affects our ability to perform our jobs? Strong emphasis is placed on our physical well-being, but how do we deal with a psychological state of not being fit to fly?

This is where Mayday-SA comes in.

Mayday-SA is comprised of Pilots volunteering from across the aviation spectrum, trained to assist all aviation license holders in South Africa in matters of mental significance.

The volunteers are all pilots, and your Peers, who have developed skills through their training by professionals, and by leading international specialists in the field. These volunteers are not counselors or psychologists, but fellow aviators who understand your world. They are skilled at debriefing and their prime goal is to help you cope with the effects of your scenario in a healthy way. By giving you space and guidance you can talk about your situation confidentially. The volunteers are also trained to determine whether more professional help is required, so you may be referred to specialists for extra assistance. Your anonymity, privacy and autonomy will be respected by the team member working with you. There is absolutely no reporting by the team member to any management or union members, or to bosses, colleagues, CAA, spouses, family members, friends or outside people and organizations, and your interactions with the team will not form part of any investigation.

The sole purpose of their conversation with you is to help you get back to your normal life as quickly as possible whilst allowing you space to deal with your reactions to whatever it was that threatened you in the first place. The "threat" may not even have been aviation-linked.

With its own dedicated phone number, Mayday-SA can be contacted via a 24-hour call centre. Following a call, SMS messages are sent from the Call Centre to the Peer volunteers, one of whom will respond within less than 6 hours. Once a volunteer makes contact, the caller is given an opportunity to speak about the incident and is led through the conversation in a manner that allows him or her to process the facts of what happened without fear of recrimination. The Peer volunteer guides the conversation so that it helps the caller relieve stress and come to terms with what happened. The Peer volunteer is also able to educate the caller on the possible effects an incident may have on him or her and what they can expect as they work through it in the days that follow. As mentioned above, the caller is only referred to a professional should the volunteer consider further assistance may be in the caller's best interest, or if the caller specifically requests it.

The volunteer Peers are purely there to assist you. If you are needing to talk with one of the Peer Team contact the Mayday-SA Call Centre number is 012-333 6000 - and ask for Mayday.

This crucial support service however cannot be done without your involvement and as such we are looking to expand our team of volunteers.

We are encouraging applications and direct your attention to the advert as such.

Aviation Safety

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