Peer Support Program
What is the VIPA Peer Support Program (VPSP) all about?
Today, professional airline pilots operate in a very complex and often frustrating environment with the potential for traumatic critical incidents. This, combined with the pressures of daily life, can lead to stressful situations. VIPA has identified the need for a support service to help individuals recognise and deal with stress, so that they, and their families, can once again achieve a fulfilling and balanced life.
The program uses a two tiered approach. Your first contact will be with a trained Peer Supporter, who is a respected pilot colleague. The Peer Supporter should be viewed as a psychological ‘First Aider’ who can give you practical advice to deal with stress. In more serious cases, the Peer Supporter is trained to identify the need for a qualified counsellor. Should this be required then referral can be made to VIPA’s senior psychologist Monica Kleinman.
How do I know if I need help?
Prevention is always the best option. If you have experienced a critical event, either work related or personal, the peer supporter can pass on some basic tools to help mitigate and manage the normal reactions that can be expected. The key to a quick recovery is early recognition that a problem exists.
Stress is defined as the body’s response to any demand made of it and it is both normal and necessary. Stress overload, however is neither normal nor necessary. If you, or your family, recognise a change in your normal behaviour then perhaps it is time to seek help.
Behavioural changes may include:
Physical: You may experience tightening of muscle groups, such as around the head or neck. You may get headaches, or be nauseous and not be able to eat. You may feel more fatigued and not able to sleep.
Behavioural: You might not want to be around other people. You may self-medicate with alcohol or caffeine above your normal intake. You may also elect to opt out of normal social interactions.
Mental: You might find it hard to concentrate, becoming easily distracted by what is in your mind.
Emotional: You may experience mood swings that cause you to become angry at the drop of a hat or snappy at family and friends.
Spiritual: Sometimes, the issue causing problems assumes proportions so huge that it causes you to question the meaning of things. This can happen without any religion at all. We, all of us, need meaning.
Is confidentiality guaranteed?
Yes, all discussions between you and your supporter are kept confidential. All case notes are destroyed upon completion.
Is there an additional cost to me?
In-house pilot peer support is covered by your VIPA annual membership fee.
How long is this support offered for?
Support will be offered until you and VIPA are satisfied that the problem has been resolved.
Can I change my Peer Supporter?
Yes, VIPA recognises you may be more comfortable with another supporter. This can be arranged directly with the VPSP manager.
Who manages the VPSP Program?
The program is managed by the VIPA Flight Safety Subcommittee. A small and dedicated team of specialists in the subcommittee look after the program.
Can I arrange for my wife, husband, or partner to be included in discussions?
Yes, that can certainly be arranged.