Ensuring the mental wellbeing of cabin crew is one of the critical best practices in the Aviation Industry
As aviation struggles to maintain momentum in its recovery, cabin crew are facing a lot of heat in this stressful situation.
They face staying away from their homes while health crises creep in, as they are unsure of local rules or potential travel restrictions. Some of them are restricted to home for a prolonged period and are now used to being there for young children or partners, making it difficult to resume back to work.
On top of this, the work environment has changed drastically. Procedures have undergone a major overhaul and many professionals have lost their jobs amid the pandemic.
It is important to have a confident cabin crew as this translates to a delightful passengers’ experience. However, maintaining that confidence amid a global pandemic is easier said than done.
Proactive Initiatives to Address the Concern
A significant part of the solution is revamped training programs.
IATA, for example, has quickly taken on board the alarming situation so that essential skills are imparted as and when necessary.
Paying attention to the air crew’s concerns and feeding back that knowledge into training has been a key element in this endeavour.
More important is ensuring the mental wellbeing of the cabin crew. Imagine the anxiety of being on furlough in a lockdown and then asked to provide a service within a confined space at 30,000ft.
Of course, an aircraft has been tested and proven to be an extremely safe environment in terms of virus transmission, but for the individual, it is nevertheless a significant adjustment.
“Launch confidential and open digital channels for people to ask questions and raise concerns have been really important,” said Virgin Atlantic’s Sneddon.
Which airlines have responded responsibly?
Many airlines have started or ramped up initiatives to ensure regular transparent communication with the crew.
Virgin Atlantic, for example, has already trained some crew as mental health first aiders to help colleagues.
Cathay Pacific also has more than 50 certified mental first aiders,
Kenya Airways has its Embrace program, and there are many other examples too.
In essence, these efforts acknowledge that emotional safety is just as important as other forms of safety. Mental wellbeing should not be a project but a fundamental part of the company’s core culture.
In the past two years, cabin crew have had to deal with experiences that nobody anticipated. The next few years will be no less difficult. The industry must acknowledge the difficulties that cabin crew will face and provide the correct level of support.
According to Major of the European Transport Workers Federation, the goal is that cabin crew should not suffer in silence.
Though crew have an array of skills to translate into self-care—after all, they deal with colleagues, border control officials, and passengers daily—an autonomous strong support is essential where honest and adult conversations should be easily accessible, even in routine.
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