Following the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of challenges have been highlighted affecting aviation personnel. These include time pressure, a heavy workload, fatigue, and various social factors. These conditions directly impact the mental well-being of aviation professionals, and unfortunately, mental health is often stigmatized. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the necessity to prioritize mental well-being and enhance access to improved mental health care.
Airport operators are now taking steps to implement structured programs for front-line personnel, including first responders and shift workers. Amidst the pandemic, many airports and their communities have introduced mental health support programs to assist personnel in coping with the overwhelming stress and pressures that the situation has brought about. These vital support programs must be sustained and further integrated into the airport system.
To assist airport operators, ACI World is providing this quick resource guide to provide general information and examples on addressing mental health at the airport.
Airports Conducting Mental Health Activities
Here are some examples of airport operators around the globe that have implemented mental health initiatives:
Leadership plays a crucial role in fostering a supportive environment by actively addressing mental health issues, promoting self-care, and encouraging employees to seek help. Collaboration between aviation organizations, unions, and mental health experts is essential to develop comprehensive mental health initiatives tailored to the specific needs of aviation professionals.
These programs could be offered to airport employees to address mental health and promote overall well-being. These programs aim to provide support, education, and resources to help employees cope with stress, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and enhance their mental resilience. Here are some suggested programs:
Conduct regular workshops that focus on raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma, and providing information on stress management and coping strategies.
Implement an EAP that offers confidential counseling services, support helplines, and resources for airport employees seeking help for personal or work-related issues affecting their mental health.
Organize meditation and mindfulness sessions to help employees relax, reduce anxiety, and improve their emotional well-being.
Provide courses or seminars that teach practical stress management techniques, time management, and relaxation exercises.
Establish peer support networks where employees can connect with colleagues who have undergone mental health training and are willing to provide support and understanding.
Encourage physical activity by offering gym facilities, fitness classes, or walking groups, as regular exercise has been shown to positively impact mental health.
Advocate for flexible work hours and remote work options when possible, to help employees to better manage their personal and professional lives.
Conduct workshops or training sessions focused on building resilience and emotional strength to handle challenging situations.
Create designated areas where employees can take short breaks to relax and recharge during their shifts.
Implement a mental health screening program to identify employees who may need additional support or intervention.
Offer online resources, webinars, and educational materials on various mental health topics, such as depression, anxiety, and work-related stress.
Develop and communicate clear workplace policies that promote mental health, such as anti-discrimination measures and reasonable workload expectations.
Unhoused People at Airports
The presence of unhoused individuals at airports poses challenges for airport operators. This complex issue stems from a combination of factors, including low wages, the scarcity of affordable housing, and mental health issues, making it a global concern. As unhoused individuals seek shelter in public spaces like airports, these present security concerns, sanitation issues, and passenger complaints, all of which require resources of airport operators. Moreover, many unhoused individuals also grapple with mental health challenges, necessitating support and care that airport operators may not always be equipped to provide.
Mental Health Websites
The websites below can also provide additional information and resources on mental health topics in your region.
- Beyond Blue - Australia
- The Black Dog Institute - Australia
- SANE Australia - Australia
- The Asia Foundation - Asia
- The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences - India
- The National Center for Mental Health - Philippines
- The Shanghai Mental Health Center - China
- The Samaritans of Singapore - Singapore
- The Malaysian Mental Health Association - Malaysia
- The National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry - Japan
- The Mental Health Association of Hong Kong - Hong Kong
- Pan American Health Organization - South America
- Associação Brasileira de Psiquiatria (ABP) - Brazil
- Fundación INECO - Argentina
- Mental Health Foundation - Chile
- Red Iberoamericana de Investigación en Salud Mental (RIISM) - South America
The above material is for informational purposes only, serving to provide general resources and examples for the global airport community. For medical advice, please contact a qualified healthcare professional.