Monday, May 23, 2022
Mental Health Awareness Month
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness month, Chaddrian Calhoun, co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, approached us about mental health issues in minority communities. Our discussion unveiled that some of the biggest obstacles confronting disparaged communities are a lack of trust and the stigma attached to disclosing a need for help. As a result of our discussion, Chaddrian has compiled a very insightful piece relevant to everyone.
May is Mental Health Awareness month. As we seek to create a more inclusive work environment for people with a wide range of different abilities, we wanted to make sure we took the time to recognize and acknowledge how mental health impacts our workgroup and industry.
Over the last couple of years, we have faced a pandemic, furloughs, reductions in staffing on aircraft, changes in our attendance policy, reductions in the quality of trips, and a rapid increase in passenger conflicts, amongst all of the stresses of our job. These times have been difficult and have impacted all of us. Access and confidence in accessing tools designed to help us cope can make all the difference. Often one of the biggest barriers to utilization of the tools is stigma.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “more than half of people with mental illness don’t receive help for their disorders. Often people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to concerns about being treated differently or fears of losing their jobs and livelihood.”Researchers identify different types of stigmas:
Public stigma involves the negative or discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental illness.
Self-stigma refers to the negative attitudes, including internalized shame, that people with mental illness have about their condition.
Institutional stigma, is more systemic, involving policies of the government and private organizations that intentionally or unintentionally limit opportunities for people with mental illness. Examples include lower funding for mental illness research or fewer mental health services relative to other health care.”
With our expanding workforce, there are outside factors that impact different facets of our work group more than others. In 2019, a national poll from the APA found that in the workspace, 32% of baby boomers were comfortable talking about mental health as compared to 62% of millennials. When you factor in historical mistrust of medical institutions, systemic lack of access to proper health care, and intergenerational historical trauma mental illness have a greater impact on marginalized communities.
What can we do to combat stigma? We know the jumpseat is a sacred space for our workgroup. We share meals, life stories, layover plans, and sometimes our deepest secrets. If you find yourself in a conversation where someone is sharing their mental health journey or someone who might not be as informed about the complexities of mental health, a conversation is one of our strongest tools to create change.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has suggested these as starting points:
Educate yourself and others – respond to misperceptions or negative comments by sharing facts and experiences.
Be conscious of language – remind people that words matter.
Show compassion for those with mental illness.
Choose empowerment over shame.
There is a popular quote circulating on the internet that says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Furthering the conversation around shifting the stigma, the organization Make It Ok suggests the following:
Try these simple tips for talking.
- “Thanks for opening up to me.”
- “Is there anything I can do to help?”
- “I’m sorry to hear that. It must be tough.”
- “I’m here for you when you need me.”
- “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”
- “People do get better.”
- “Oh man, that sucks.”
- “Can I drive you to an appointment?”
- “How are you feeling today?”
- “I love you.”
- “It could be worse.”
- “Just deal with it.”
- “Snap out of it.”
- “Everyone feels that way sometimes.”
- “You may have brought this on yourself.”
- “We’ve all been there.”
- “You’ve got to pull yourself together.”
- “Maybe try thinking happier thoughts.”
If you need assistance, please take advantage of the resources available.
(817) 540-0108, prompt #2.
Your APFA EAP Rep on call will be able to discuss your issue and offer answers or referrals as needed.
This is our contracted vendor manned by clinicians 24/7. They will be able to provide a list of therapists in your area as well as a code for your first four free visits.
The Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program (FADAP) is a voluntary confidential program for Flight Attendants and their family members to seek help dealing with substance abuse. Visit the FADAP website to learn more about services offered, recovery resources, and substance abuse information and education.
Wings of Sobriety
Wings of Sobriety follows a 12-Step format for AA Flight Attendants and includes other airlines. They offer virtual meetings on Wednesday at 3PM ET, and Sundays at 5 PM ET.
Flight Attendants In Recovery (FAIR)
Flight Attendants in Recovery is a peer to peer support group for AA Flight Attendants. It does not follow a 12-Step format. They offer weekly virtual meetings on Thursdays at 3 PM ET.
Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT)
CIRT is available for confidential assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is a program that was developed as a collaborative effort between American Airlines and EAP to assist Flight Attendants after experiencing a critical or traumatic workplace event.
APFA EAP Representative
Project Coordinator, FADAP