Jason Lorenzon, Ph.D., and Diana Semillia - College of Aeronautics and Engineering
No one is immune to stress. Regardless of salary or occupation, we are prone to the hardships that inevitably come with life. However, within the professional career of commercial aviation, pilots must be on their “A game” at all times to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
“It has become apparent that people in the aeronautics field who have mental health concerns are reluctant to reach out for help,” Diana Semillia, undergraduate in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, said. “Professionals within the industry tend to avoid seeking help due to the stigma or fear of losing their license.”
Common mental health conditions are typically very treatable; however, avoiding the appropriate help while taking on such a physically and mentally demanding career will only intensify the symptoms, making for an increasingly difficult headspace to manage.
Semilia’s 2020 SURE Project focused on collecting data to determine the extent to which mental health stigma influences professionals' course of action, or lack thereof, within the industry.
“For this year’s project, I am developing a confidential survey intended for students within the College of Aeronautics and Engineering,” Semillia said. “The survey will help identify warning signs and symptoms that may be associated with a languishing mental state.”
By addressing these concerns early on, young professionals may feel more motivated to seek help in order to maintain their mental fitness as opposed to correcting it later on. By focusing on the stigma and drawing attention to the normalcy of mental health concerns, Semilia hopes to help dismantle the incorrect assumptions and increase help-seeking behavior within her industry.
“We cannot keep this topic hush-hush. That will inevitably do more harm than good,” Semillia said. “There should always be a way to approach this topic without fear of reprehension.”