this is your captain speaking

A much needed wake-up call for airline passengers, pilots, regulators, and anyone involved in the aviation industry. 

Words of Praise

Captain O’Shaughnessy gives us a rare, up-close, and honest look at the challenges that airline pilots face by bravely and boldly sharing her journey. The powerful insights and solutions she offers will serve as a lifeline for many. Whether you are a pilot or passenger, you will benefit from this book!

Dr. Amishi Jha,
Professor and director of Contemplative Neuroscience, University of Miami
An important work on a long-overdue subject. Capt. O’ pulls back the curtain on the subject of mental health and well-being in the aviation profession. Pilots, ATC professionals, and cabin crew are in the midst of a mental health crises in an industry that largely refuses to acknowledge, or have meaningful dialog about it. Tragically, most who suffer will never seek help or even bring up the subject for fear of losing their job. Punishing those who self-disclose simply drives the problem underground while creating more, not less, depression and anxiety. This book is for anyone concerned about the ‘human factors’ that keep airliners operating safely.
Carl Eisen

A300 captain (retired), UCLA-trained Mindfulness Facilitator, 

IMTA-P, and founder of Mindful Aviator

This Is Your Captain Speaking offers an eloquently constructed inquiry into the role of outdated views and ineffective approaches to pilot wellness and how it negatively impacts human suffering and aviation safety.
Captain Matthew C. McNeil

MS, LPC, ATP, founder and clinical director of LiftAffect

Captain O’ here!

During my time in the flight deck, too often I have deeply listened to stories from fellow pilots who have struggled to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression throughout their careers. I’ve noticed that even seemingly minor symptoms can contribute to reduced concentration and awareness, both of which have the potential to undermine safety.

For many in this high stress industry, symptoms that seem small in the beginning have a tendency to compound over time.

I’ve also borne witness to the consequences of ignoring these symptoms. From burnout, chronic stress, anxiety, depression, insomia, substance use, abuse and suicide — too many pilots are suffering in silence, with no real tools to turn to.

That’s why, as a 35 year seasoned airline pilot, I’ve been compelled published This Is Your Captain Speaking: What You Should Know About Your Pilot’s Mental Health, which I hope will serve as a much needed wake up call for pilots, FAA regulators, aviation industry insiders, and the general public, who deserve to know what’s happening behind the scenes.

Here’s what you need to know now:

The majority of people can seek treatment and counseling, or even make the choice to resist help. They have options. For commercial pilots like me, however, seeking treatment risks severe impacts to our careers. (This is true for ATC controllers as well.)

Why? If a pilot or controller seeks treatment, or even engages in a conversation with a mental health provider, it “tags” them to the government’s regulatory apparatus, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). That conversation could lead to the professional being one step away from getting grounded, or possibly even losing their livelihood.

That’s because the current federal regulations are based on 1950’s era stigma pertaining to mental health. It’s outdated, and they know it. Since 2010, the FAA has been working with airlines and pilot unions toward reducing the stigma of self-reporting mental health while also improving treatment options. However, issues such as stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia and even marital counseling are examples of conditions that go unreported (and untreated) among pilots, all because the regulation drives them and their needs underground.

This must change.

Public safety is at risk and we need to do something about it. It’s not a surprise that airlines don’t want to talk about pilot mental health. Frankly, it would scare the hell out of the public! Think about it.
Would you want to place you or your family in the hands of a pilot who is suffering from chronic stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, or alcoholism, knowing they are locked into a system that expects them to keep struggling with life’s up and downs without any outlet because asking for help means to risk their livelihood?

The level of change I’m seeking will require a billion dollar industry to make massive changes, including to regulatory measures that the United States government oversees. It will require aviation school and long-time professionals in the field to make personal and professional changes. It will require tapping into the latest brain-based, scientific research to build a better aviation world.

It will require YOU -- and people just like you -- to advocate, support, and back this mission. Will you join the movement?

Words of Praise

Captain O’Shaughnessy makes a compelling case that pilots’ psychological well-being can be, and should be, enhanced to catapult aviation safety to new heights.

Colleen Hensely

USAF pilot, airline pilot, leadership author, and speaker

Captain O’Shaughnessy has provided us with a glimpse inside the cockpit that will enhance air safety for the betterment of all—now and in the future. The insight that she brings regarding mental health in aviation is long overdue. Bravo!

Christina Frederick

PhD, professor of Department of Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology, Embry-Riddle University 

Reyné O’Shaughnessy’s book, This is Your Captain Speaking, is an important contribution to the discussion surrounding the urgent problem of pilot mental health. I highly recommend this book for the aviator, the policy maker, and the curious.

William Hoffman

MD, FAA AME,

aeromedical researcher, Georgetown University, 

author of Wings of Deceit: One Secret that Changes Everything and  Intrepid Pursuit: When Stopping Is Not an Option

Meet the Author

Captain Reyné O’Shaughnessy has been a commercial airline pilot for a Fortune 50 company for over 34 years. She currently captains B767 aircrafts and has logged over 10,000 hours of total heavy jet flight time. Other aircraft experience includes B727 and A300/310.

 

Her interest in mental health and performance began while engaged as a volunteer in professional pilot union-sponsored programs (Critical Incident Response Program (CIRP), Pilot Assistance Hotline Team Hotline (PATH), and Professional Standards (ProStans)). This experience gave her insight to how physical and mental health and performance are closely tied. As a result Reyné created her airline’s first ever health and wellness website designed specifically for airline pilots.

Building on the desire to better her coworkers’ and her own health with formal training, Reyné holds a certification from Brown University in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). As an institution, Brown is known for academic rigor in public health. She also holds a BS in Leadership, an Executive Certificate in Business from UC Berkeley, and is actively pursuing a medical health coaching accreditation.

Now known as Captain O’, Reyne has over a decade of experience as a health and wellness strategist. She continues to be an aviation safety advocate, and is primarily focused on how well-being (human factors) impacts all aspects of safety. As a visionary leader who brings a clear idea of what the future of mental health and performance in aviation could be, Reyne is thrilled to be releasing This is Your Captain Speaking worldwide.

Who should read this book?

Consumers Who Fly

If you’re flying around the world for work, or upstate to visit Grandma, I believe that you deserve the safest flight possible. That’s only possible when your pilot has access to the mental health support and wellbeing practices they deserve.

Pilots

Whether you’ve been in the field for most of your life, or are just getting your feet wet, you already know that aviation is an exciting, rewarding career. It can also be high-stress, and currently there are few support options. That needs to change.

FAA Regulators

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the power to effect great change in this industry; but that will only happen if all of the facts are on the table and the current realities are faced. Together, we can make that happen.

Aviation School Leadership Teams

If you’re flying around the world for work, or upstate to visit Grandma, I believe that you deserve the safest flight possible. That’s only possible when your pilot has access to the mental health support and wellbeing practices they deserve.

Flight Attendants

More than anyone else, flight attendants have a finger on the heartbeat of what happens in the air. They also put their own safety on the line when pilots are suffering from mental health strain, and are well positioned to call for change.

ACT Controllers

While performing one of the most stressful jobs on earth, ACT controllers are also frowned upon for seeking mental health support. This increases the strain of their work, and unfairly contributes to chronic health conditions. It needs to stop!

Commercial Airline Organizations
Pilots who are overstressed, unhealthy, and generally struggling are pilots who are putting your organization, your flight crews, your airplanes, and your passengers at risk. Rather than waiting for the worst to happen, you can learn how to proactively provide solutions.
Airplane Manufacturers
When an airplane goes down, manufacturers are almost always called to account in some way. By getting engaged in the wellbeing of pilots and other aviation professionals, manufacturers can be part of minimizing risk and decreasing liability in accident situations.
Mental Health Providers

Mental health providers work with high-powered people in high-stress professions all the time….but few have worked with pilots. Why? Because the industry hasn’t allowed them to. It’s imperative this changes, and that they are prepared to serve our aviation community.

A Skilled & Passionate Speaker

With over a decade of experience as a wellness strategist, and with a particular focus on mindfulness based training, I’m passionate about speaking to any audience who resonates with the pressure of being in a high-performance career.

I would be especially happy to discuss my upcoming book, This Is Your Captain Speaking: What You Should Know About Your Pilot’s Mental Health.

Keynotes | Radio | Television | Podcasts | Conferences | Summits | Print | Schools

Dr. Kelly provides an in-depth look at what makes women physiologically unique.

Watch Captain O's exclusive interview with hormone expert Dr. Kelly Casperson, bestselling author of "You Are Not Broken."

By signing up you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.