By DebbieH 06 Aug 2019 7 min read

Mental health care for a happy flying career


The freedom and excitement of travelling the world is a pleasure you want to keep and enjoy for as long as you fly. To do that, a little bit of housekeeping is in order to make sure you get the best out of your time in the air. Physical and mental health matter in this respect, so let’s look at how you can make sure the only blues you see are blue skies.

Mental health in the workplace often comes up in conversation nowadays, because it is costing the workplace a lot. More than just money, it costs workers their livelihood if not taken care of. To avoid the perils of bad mental health, you have to understand the signs, and be able to see them in your colleagues and those you hold dear, and more importantly, yourself.



The World Health Organisation W.H.O. has this to say about mental health:

  • Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders.
  • Mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health.
  • Mental health is determined by a range of factors, including environmental ones.



What has it got to do with you? 

Just because you swap an office in the sky for an office on the ground doesn’t mean you escape the stresses of the regular workplace. Oftentimes juggling home life and travel-heavy work life can be equally taxing.

It is about knowing how the lifestyle you now lead can get out of balance if you let it, what to do to bring balance back, and where to get help if you need it. Let’s begin with a common misconception about the flying lifestyle.

As glamorous as flying is from the outside, people tend to get the impression that things are 100 percent fantastic all the time for a glamorous crew!

Scratch the surface and you find that cabin crew are normal people too, even if they have a ready smile and go beyond the normal customer service expectations. As such, people don’t always check in with their glamorous crew friend and family member because they are having the time of their life, right? Well, not every day. 


Speak up and to the right people

This is where communication is important. Communication is a two-way street and you need to be comfortable speaking up when you are not having a good day and when you need that little extra support from those around you.

As a group of people, crew get into the habit of putting others before themselves. While this can be a valuable trait for teamwork, there is often nothing to give others if you don’t take care of your health first. 


Know the starting signs

Mental health has an association with stress, anxiety, and depression, which in turn are reflected in hormonal health. The constant change in travel conditions, environments and circumstances beyond your control all feature in a flier’s lifestyle and can make some, more sensitive than most.

Be mindful of how you do and don’t manage stresses that come with the job. One top tip besides sharing your feelings and being heard is to make sure you get regular exercise. This raises the feel-good factors your body produces known as endorphins. They literally change your biochemistry and help banish stress, anxiety and depression.


Good tips to stay balanced

What self-help steps can you take to keep everything ticking over? I briefly mentioned regular exercise, but it is worth repeating again for emphasis. Something as simple as going for a brisk walk has the ability to clear your head and lift your spirit, making it harder to be in the doldrums.

Checking-in with yourself mentally is a good thing to do to every once in a while to create awareness of how you feel emotionally. One of the most valuable tools has to be the ability to turn to a fellow crew member who really understands the lifestyle you lead, so make friends easily so you can support them and be supported in return.

Another tip is to be mindful of the effect of the seasons on your hormonal health. Seasonal Affected Disorder otherwise known as SAD, is when you don’t get enough daylight in winter and the long winter months negatively influence your hormones, usually from autumn till the start of spring.

If you are affected by SAD, recognising it, and nipping it in the bud can halt a spiral into unwanted mental health symptoms started by disrupted hormone patterns.

Having someone to call to talk to in any eventuality should always be an option, be it crew, friend, family or even a friendly ear from a professional organisation like the Samaritans. You may be pleased to know that some airlines have similar in-house services or arrangements with such organisations.

If all else fails there is nothing like a wee galley chat in the small hours over a hot beverage to put the world to right and lift the spirits. Happy Landings!


About Christopher

Christopher Babayode is a former flight attendant of 20 years with British Airways, a specialist in Travel Wellness and healthy jet lag solutions for those who travel often. He is the author of Farewell Jet Lag, Cures from a Flight Attendant (on Amazon UK & US). Chris has been featured in the Sunday Telegraph and is a most -read author on Quora the questions and answers platform.