Ex-Army Officer, rescue helicopter pilot and mental health ambassador, Kevin Humphreys DSC knows what it’s like to hit rock bottom. For a long time, Kevin kept his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety buried deep. Today, Kevin shares what happens when you hit rock bottom, how he figured it out, and the triggers that made a difference in transforming his life.
Kevin’s personal mission is to lift humanity by inspiring businesses and the people within them to engage in Noble Self-Leadership.
His 20 year military career flying Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters for the Australian Army is nothing short of stellar. At just 21, he earned the keys to a Blackhawk helicopter. Kevin would go on to complete several operational tours as both a pilot and commander in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan plus humanitarian operations in Papua New Guinea.
Despite Kevin’s direct exposure to rocket attacks, machine gun fire and highly risky rescue operations it wasn’t these experiences that made him feel his life was falling apart.
Kevin says, “At the time, I didn’t know a single person who had experienced mental illness or suicide.” This fueled Kevin’s sense of failure and shame for ‘allowing’ a breakdown to happen, and a belief that he didn’t have the strength to go on.
A diagnosis of PTSD, depression and anxiety felt unacceptable to Kevin. While his return to work took nine months, Kevin kept his breakdown and illness a secret for seven years.
Over time and with help, Kevin realised that he wasn’t a failure and his secret was holding him back from living a full life.
You’ll often hear Kevin say, “whilst you’ve got a brain and a blood supply you’re susceptible to mental illness, it doesn’t discriminate. The question is, will you have the courageous conversations required to turn this around?”.
When he joined the Army Kevin believed his life purpose was to serve his country through the profession of arms. Today, by pulling back the curtains on his own experience, Kevin’s purpose remains to serve but on a bigger scale.
He wants to lift humanity by destigmatising mental illness and empowering others to show courage and compassion to both themselves and others.
It’s Kevin’s passionate belief that mental illness is normal, manageable and recoverable for most people. He shows that there is life after diagnosis and that it’s possible to return to the top of your game and beyond.
Since his recovery, Kevin has become a Flight Instructor and Examiner, and has held positions of Chief Pilot and Director of Operations in Search and Rescue helicopter organisations.
He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his command and courageous leadership under fire in Afghanistan.
Kevin is the Mental Health Ambassador for AIRBUS Australia Pacific, a contributor to international media and regular podcast guest.
He was also recognized as a 2023 community Citizen of the Year for his impact as a mental health advocate and founder of COR INFINITUS which gives dignity and respect to the families of those who’ve served their nation and taken their own lives.
ROLE MODEL RECOGNITION
Perhaps the highest praise that Kevin has received came in August 2018 when he visited The Hague to attend the investiture ceremony of a Dutch colleague who was being awarded the Military Order of William (equivalent to the Victoria Cross).
When introducing Kevin to the King and Queen of The Netherlands, the recipient stated that Kevin was his role model for his actions that led to the award.