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Mental Health in Aviation – The AIRDAT team recognise World Mental Health Day

In January, our chairman, Charles Cardwell, took the brave step to share with the AIRDAT team his personal story around how stress had made a significant impact on his life: 

“The sources of stress are endless and vary for everyone – from my own experience, I know the result can be completely debilitating.  Learning to identify your stressors and developing techniques that work for you to manage them is a life skill that should be taught at school.  

The ‘stiff upper lip’ approach we still see (particularly in the UK!) makes it even more difficult to talk openly about mental health without fear of judgement or the perception of weakness being applied.  In my experience, talking led to support, understanding and action.  

Now, to be in a position where I can confidently deal with anything life has to throw at me is incredibly liberating.  Making sure that we do all we can at AIRDAT to support each other and create an environment where people feel comfortable talking about mental health is extremely important to me.” 

As a result, AIRDAT launched an internal campaign for mental health awareness and support. The company conducted a review on areas that they can support the team and implemented initiatives, such as:

  • A strong work/life balance with flexible working hours and location.
  • Extended holidays over Christmas to spend time with family and friends.
  • Monthly team activities (such as segwaying, kayaking, go-karting, a day at the spa) to take a day out of the business for some fun.
  • Introduction of a company intranet to share successes, events and stories. 

Additionally, this year, the AIRDAT team participated in Stress Management courses in an effort to equip the team with the tools to recognise and manage stress. AIRDAT works with airports in many different ways training, systems, consultancy, development, billing services, project management, support, the list goes on. Which means each member of the team experiences different work stress. 

“I found the [stress management] course very helpful! I am not a majorly stressed out person, but it did help me to understand and learn how I could deal with it if it did happen! I think it is a good idea for everyone to do it!”

Rebecca, AIRDAT Support

AIRDAT have created a supportive environment for the team where there is always time for a chat and help is always on hand. Mick, an AIRDAT Consultant, wanted to share his story to bring awareness to mental health and the effects it can have:

“Before my health issues, I was very active – playing squash and training in the gym and even running a marathon and skydiving. Then it happened. To put it bluntly, I was told I should have gone home in a “box”. Thankfully the brilliant treatment I had saved the day. After a long recovery, I thought I could go back to a normal life. Unfortunately, Doctors advised differently and I soon found they were right. 

The Doctors said I was suffering from stress – which of course “macho men don’t suffer from stress”! What I didn’t realise that the human body can recognize stress and cause other health issues.

Although it can be very difficult, it is so important to admit the issue to yourself. Then to get help as soon as possible. See a GP and “talk, talk talk” to partners and close friends.”

Mental health awareness and support is a topic close to the heart of the whole AIRDAT team. Kat, an AIRDAT Designer and Mental Health First Aider, wanted to be better able to support people experiencing poor mental health and discovered the Mental Health First Aid Course.

“One of the things that sticks with me most is the “stress bucket” concept. Everybody has a “stress bucket” and they vary in capacity, but no matter who you are, it is important to have positive coping mechanisms in place for days when your stress bucket is full.”

Kat, AIRDAT Designer

AIRDAT  will continue to look at other ways the company can support their teams wellbeing. As the saying goes “Look after yourself, so that you have the strength to look after others”. And at the core, the AIRDAT team want to help each other and their customers.

Where to get help:

For UK Residents – NHS How to access mental health services

For Australian Residents – Mental health care and Medicare

For New Zealand Residents – Ministry of Health Mental health

Mental Health in aviation – Are you interested in being a Mental Health First Aider at your airport? Send an email to AIRDAT – support@airdat.org.

  • 09/10/2019 at 13:28