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What Factors Impact a Pilot’s Physical and Mental Health?

What Factors Impact a Pilot’s Physical and Mental Health?

Pilots are required to perform complex procedures with physical demands that can have a direct effect on their mental/physical health. In this demanding profession, pilots are likely to experience reduced sleep, unhealthy eating patterns, and more. Understanding the complexities that pilots undergo in daily life can provide insight as to physical and mental health interventions that may improve the quality of life of those in this profession. Professor Robert Bor, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, stated on an article published by the British Psychological Society in 2017,“…The prevention and identification of mental health conditions before they lead to a crisis can be achieved if airlines implement high quality psychological monitoring and support and, where needed, assessment by qualified practitioners.”

A 2017 review also published by the British Psychological Society determines a number of factors that could affect a pilot’s mental and physical health, including (but not limited to):

  • Strenuous efforts for licensure and recruitment, such as extensive testing, medical certifications, simulator test flights, technical exams, safety and emergency procedure protocol, and even more to maintain their status.
  • Small workspaces with long hours in the cockpit can be challenging, especially alongside noisiness, poor air quality, reduced oxygen, high altitudes and more.
  • Jet lag, early start and finishes, long hours and frequently changing schedules can certainly increase one’s susceptibility to physical illness and mental illness alike.
  • Job uncertainty is often a major concern for pilots, with the economy and competing low-cost carriers make this field more of a risk than before.
  • Terrorist concerns have become more prominent, as a pilot must make decisions to try and protect their safety and the safety of others.
  • Between the long hours and extended trips, it’s very difficult for pilots to maintain personal relationships. Disputes with loved ones over these career necessities can lead to further mental anguish, often resulting in mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

Excessive demands can come at a cost to a pilot’s mental and physical health, placing their quality of life – and their career – in jeopardy. If you’ve been noticing signs of a mental or physical illness, seek the help you need today.

If you haven’t already, speak with someone from a professional treatment center to learn more about programs to best suit your needs. Optimal recovery is possible, and you are not alone in your pursuit for happiness, health, and wellbeing.

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