Cabin Crew and depression might seem to be worlds apart – most of the population is used to seeing only the ‘glamorous’ side of the job.
The social media accounts full of pictures of incredible locations and poolside cocktails, the stories of amazing layover adventures, the travel and perceived glamour of the cabin crew job…
However like the population in general, more and more crew are silently struggling with depression, and depressive or anxiety related disorders.
People forget about the other side of the job – the lack of sleep, ever-present jet-lag, working in a pressurized environment that’s bad for your long-term health.
Coupled with irregular mealtimes, grabbing sugary and processed food on the go and quite often drinking far too much caffeine and alcohol – it’s a trigger for mood swings, exhaustion and illness.
That’s saying nothing about the challenges of the job itself – hectic schedules and tight turnarounds, difficult and sometimes aggressive passengers, and the physical toll of being on your feet for hours on end and bending and stooping constantly in a cramped cabin.
All the while keeping the patented ‘cabin crew smile’ on your face!
It’s also a difficult career to have when it comes to relationships – both with partners/spouses and with friends and family.
When you work away so much you often have to miss out on the special occasions, parties, birthdays, Christmas…it’s part of the job, but that doesn’t make it easy.
People argue that cabin crew know what they’re getting into, and that all of this is part and parcel of the job. To an extent that’s true – everyone knows (in theory) what the job involves when they apply.
But not everyone realises how hard it will be on them. They can end up feel ashamed that they can’t cope, or are starting to feel down more and more frequently.
Especially in this career that they’ve worked so hard to get into!
There’s also a bit of a ‘fear’ culture surrounding depression and the use of medications, that crew will lose their job if the airline finds out.
It’s a very prominent issue and also sadly a very taboo subject. In my airline alone last year two crew members took their own lives. This shouldn’t be happening.
And so the subject becomes taboo, the affected crew member suffers in silence, and the cycle continues.
This is why it’s so important to seek help, or at the very least talk to someone – a family member, a close friend, a trusted colleague.
Don’t assume that people are coping just because they put on a brave face either – that bubbly and outgoing colleague might be struggling to hold it together.
A fellow member of crew then please do speak to them – and if they trust you enough to confide in you then do your best to help!
Balancing our professional and private lives, time away from home and loved ones, stresses from management and even other colleagues and of course having to deal with the wonderful general public on a daily basis all combine to make depression and anxiety extremely common in the cabin crew world.Dan, Confessions of a Trolley Dolly, in his recent article on Cabin Crew Health
If you’re struggling with depression and anxiety then we urge you to talk to someone.