Symbiotics has recently closed responses on its aviation industry questionnaire from December, targeted at gathering insight and opinions around the new EASA Regulations into the psychological testing of pilots. This survey has provided some useful yet concerning information about the readiness of the aviation industry to comply with the new rules that come into force July 2020.

Of the European Pilot respondents, only 10 percent are very / extremely familiar with the amendments as opposed to 45 percent who have no familiarity at all. Only 17 percent of survey respondents’ employers have solutions or psychological assessments in place already, demonstrating a serious lack of readiness for the mandatory evaluations.

Going beyond compliance – mental wellbeing

It is clear that mental health is a growing issue, in aviation as it is across all industries: statistics from the mental health charity, Mind suggest that globally 1 in 4 adults will experience at least one mental health condition in any one year, and that at any particular time 1 in 6 adults are experiencing a mental health condition; that is around 450-million people globally.

Given the accepted mental ill-health figures and FAA Pilot recruitment statistics, this means that approximately 114,000 pilots could be experiencing a mental health condition at this moment. This is made even more relevant with the recent Beechcraft B200 Super King Air crash in Botswana where the pilot crashed the airplane into a club house at Matsieng Air Strip, appearing to be suffering from a mental health condition.

The results of Symbiotics’ recent aviation questionnaire highlight not only the concerns about the new regulations and ensuing industry updates, but also the stigma that is still attached around the issue of mental health. Thirty-six percent of survey respondents said that they, or someone they knew well, has experienced a mental health condition within the last five years, but 43 percent of respondents chose not to respond to the question despite ‘no’ being an option. This suggests a greater issue still, with a lack of openness on the subject, holding back the willingness for conversations around mental ill-health to take place.

With only 5 percent of Symbiotics survey respondents having the experience of informing their employer of mental ill-health, this brings to light the serious risk that could still be present and why, perhaps, assessment just at recruitment is not enough. Further to this, 19 percent of those who had experience of mental ill-health received no support to help them recover.

Symbiotics offers Mindfull, a mental wellbeing risk assessment solution, that includes MindQ assessment from MHS Assessment, which assesses and tracks an individual’s mental state and provides insights into changes and signs for support. When used at the recommended 2-3 times annually, this allows for early intervention when mental health concerns are highlighted as a risk or when the individual can be seen to be on a downward trajectory.