Africa Aerospace & Defence 2018

Answering the growing demand for peer support [AAD18D2]

20 September 2018

The Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA), lead partner for AAD 2018 together with the Airline Pilots' Association of South Africa, is hosting a breakfast for Mayday-SA at the CAASA Chalets 29/30 on Friday, 21 September. Mayday-SA has invited a panel of experts to address the topic of peer support.

This is part of the continuing global discussion regarding the regulation of peer support. Aviation South Africa will soon be required to deal with this challenge.

The lives of pilots and aircrew are constantly challenged in terms of balancing work and home life demands; the constant pressure to pass continual cycles of assessments where "failure" threatens livelihoods and careers; the stresses of the high-altitude operational environment; and the constant pressure to manage highly complex tasks to bring the flight safely to its destination. As "nomadic" shift workers who are frequently away from home, they are required to become "normal" partners, parents and friends as they step out of this high pressure, high-control existence into their other life.

Similar life and professional demands extend to other licence holder categories (for example, cabin crew, air traffic controllers and even recreational aviators).

Everyone is exposed, in varying degrees, to professional stresses and to the daily environmental and personal stress that is so acute in South Africa and showing no sign of diminishing in the near future. Add to this the regular life circumstances we all face, such as relational problems; family illnesses; children's demands (to name a few), and an aviation professional's life is, at times, super-stressed. On occasions, these pressures can stretch stress management and coping abilities to their limit. During these times appropriate and credible support has a huge impact.

Mayday-SA was mandated by a group of aviation stakeholders in 2012 to provide credible and appropriate support to all licence holders across South African aviation in times of trauma and emotional upheaval. The organisation was established following a meeting of these stakeholders in commemoration of the Tzaneen Albatross disaster in 2011.

Mayday-SA, presently staffed by pilots volunteering from across all sectors of South African aviation, is on standby to provide this support.

Rigorous, continuous training of peers takes place throughout the year to ensure world-class service. Awareness of our brand and services continues to grow exponentially, with a growing demand for support from our peers.

Mayday-SA is now well established in South African aviation as an independent "port-of-call" dedicated to providing peer support for licence holders, in essence to:

• Provide confidential support to colleagues and their families who may feel isolated and experience difficulty coping with emotional reactions and responses to circumstances arising from critical incidents and other forms of life crises.

• Endeavour to pre-empt and mitigate the long-term highly detrimental effects of trauma from accidents and severe incidents by providing a safe, confidential and supportive environment dedicated to the emotional wellbeing of those who seek us out.

• Provide a "collegial gateway" to a network of carefully selected, trained external professional experts when further help is needed.

We form part of an international network of similar peer support programmes with which we exchange best practice. Since the Germanwings crash in 2015, there has been a global groundswell focusing on the need for such support to become mandatory (even legislated). Mayday-SA CEO Wendy Santilhano is deeply involved in this global initiative: the Safe Haven concept. Mayday-SA is supporting other organisations in addressing draft regulations based on those now promulgated in the EU.

•Mayday-SA International Help Line: call +27 12 333 6000 and ask for Mayday

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