It’s a no brainer that a pilot’s mental health is crucial to aviation safety. After all, they are responsible for the lives onboard their aeroplane. But what happens when pilots struggle with mental health? How do we address such a controversial issue? Right here in this piece explores this highly sensitive but important topic that must be faced.
Mental Health still a Taboo Issue in Aviation /or with Pilots
The sad reality is that ‘mental health’ is still a taboo issue for the most part in aviation. You see the industry is quite traditional and conservative and with this comes a culture of sweeping it under the rug when it comes to mental health problems. Please note we are not saying everyone in aviation is like this. Rather we are saying that in general there is this culture of silence and even shame around mental health. It makes it hard for pilots to seek help. Check out the importance of mental health in aviation.
Definition of Mental Health
refers to our cognitive, emotional, and behavioural wellbeing. It impacts how we think, feel, and behave. When a person’s mental health is jeopardised, it can give rise to a mental disorder (psychosis, paranoia, depression, anxiety etc). Mental health can be compared to the engine of a plane. It’s central to its existence. It affects everything- relationships, work, daily living, money, physical health and more.
5 Warning Signs of a Pilot Struggling with Mental Health
Forewarned is forearmed goes the old saying and it couldn’t be truer with what is being discussed here. If you’re running an aviation business like a flight school, charter business, or even airline lookout for signs of poor mental health in your pilots. Remember we all have a duty of care to look out for each other especially in aviation. The following are warning signs and a pilot may exhibit one or several or even all:
- A drastic change in personality, acting like a different person, not acting, or feeling like himself or herself.
- Worrying behaviour like increased open displays of anxiety, anger, or moodiness.
- Social withdrawal, always doing things on their own, becoming isolated.
- Lack of self-care or a tendency to display risky behaviours in public.
- A strong sense of hopelessness or feeling overwhelmed.
Encouraging Pilots to Speak Up- It’s Okay to Speak UP!
So, we know what the problem is – mental health but what is the solution? Although it’s not as straightforward as we would like, we honestly believe that the following are a step in the right direction, and you can play your part as an aviation professional. The following are good solutions to start implementing if you haven’t already done so:
- Change the paradigm (entrenched attitude) by actively encouraging pilots to speak up about mental health. It helps reduce the stigma problems and discrimination.
- Raise awareness of mental health in the workplace by providing information, education, and training. Do it consistently as you would with any other aviation training.
- Provide or at least encourage counselling and professional support. In addition, provide resources like Beyond Blue, Lifeline etc.
- Create an open and caring culture where pilots feel supported and looked after.
- Develop a mental health policy for your workplace. actions
- Collaborate with industry bodies dedicated to further develop the wellbeing of pilots.
Aviation Safety Depends on Good Mental Health!
Good mental health is critical to aviation safety so it’s an issue that can no longer be ignored and nor should it be. We all have a part to stand up and speak up and support those struggling with mental health. Please reach out for help if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health. There is so much help available that you can access for free.
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