Mental health in aviation must be talked about more but, unfortunately, has been mostly swept under the rug. Even these days, with more increased awareness about mental health, it’s still not talked about enough. So here we want to address this important topic and, more importantly, what we think needs to be done to encourage its discussion.
So, why is Mental Health Largely Ignored in Aviation?
Traditionally, aviation remains quite a conservative industry in this culture; it’s not easy to ask for help. It’s a bit of a taboo! Asking for help can be seen as a weakness that could see you lose your job. After all, aviation professionals (pilots, cabin crew, engineers etc.) are expected to perform under pressure. It’s part of the job! There is almost an unspoken contract that states, “you just get on with it.” But this mentality, just like the ‘big boys doesn’t cry’ mentality, does a lot of harm. Many aviation professionals suffer in silence, and often, things get worse before they get better.
The Stressors Adding to Mental Health in Aviation
Although aviation professionals are some of the most adaptable and nimble individuals used to coping with pressure, they are only human, and sooner or later, it starts to take a toll. Some of the major contributing factors to mental health issues in the industry are:
- Irregular work schedules
- Fatigue and lack of sleep
- Poor performing aviation business (i.e.: lack of clients, low income)
- Adapting to time zone changes
- Time away from family
- Strained relationships
- Constant testing and training
- Major disruptions to the industry like COVID-19
- Changes in the aviation industry
- Personal health issues (i.e.: fading eyesight, poor eyesight)
How to Talk about Mental Health in Aviation?
We honestly believe that for mental health to be addressed properly in aviation, there first needs to be a cultural shift (a paradigm change) where it becomes acceptable and normal to talk about mental health struggles. There should be no shame or fear of being labelled crazy.
After all, change doesn’t just happen by autopilot (default). For such a change to occur, we need more aviation professionals from top to bottom to be advocating for a change of culture. We all have a part to play. If you’re the owner of aviation business, either small or large, do your bit to promote good mental health and encourage people to speak up about mental health struggles. Cultivate an environment where mental health is openly talked about. Consider the following:
- Have a mental health wellbeing day at your work every 3-6 months
- Encourage people to speak up about mental health struggles openly
- Regularly check-in and
- Eliminate any speck of shame and embarrassment that might exist in your workplace over mental health
- Genuinely show you care. Everyone wants to know they matter. A little care goes a long way.
Places to Get Help For Mental Health
If you or anyone you know in aviation or even in your own personal life, are struggling with mental health, know that help is available. This extends to beyond a professional like a psychologist and counsellor. By all means, give these a try if you’re at this stage. But in addition to these professionals, the following organisations are real-life heroes not acknowledged enough for all the great work they do across Australia in promoting good mental health.
Tip – Ensure as an aviation business you have these numbers displayed prominently at your business premises. Notice boards still count in the digital age!
Please don’t ignore mental health issues. Get help. Encourage others to get help. If you’re struggling with running your aviation business, know it also impacts mental health.
Contact the team today if you need assistance – we are always up for a chat and have plenty of recommendations for support services.