The crew should be aware of possible risky behaviour due to post-traumatic stress, post-COVID19

Researchers with the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System found that engaging in risky behavior itself a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder — could in turn lead to worse PTSD symptoms. This sets up a pattern of repeated stressful experiences, they say, that could have harmful consequences for those with PTSD.

The crew must be aware and the airlines along with the governments must help them deal with the situation. India has witnessed the largest lockdown. Therefore India needs to be aware of the second wave.

Research tells us at least one in four of us could suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the pandemic. PTSD is most common in post-conflict settings. War brings with it fear of harm, loss of life, estrangement from family and friends, and lack of freedom in movement and activities; all conditions paralleled by what we have endured under lockdown.

World Economic Forum

The world economic forum has highlighted lockdown as the world’s biggest psychological experiment – and that we will pay the price. In an article printed on 09th April 2020, following has been highlighted.

  • With some 2.6 billion people around the world in some kind of lockdown, we are conducting arguably the largest psychological experiment ever;
  • This will result in a secondary epidemic of burnouts and stress-related absenteeism in the latter half of 2020;
  • Taking action now can mitigate the toxic effects of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Estimated size of lockdowns around the world
Estimated size of lockdown.

“Reckless and self-destructive behaviour” has been added as a symptom of PTSD in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook used to diagnose psychiatric conditions.

In China, these expected mental health effects are already being reported in the first research papers about the lockdown.

In cases where parents were quarantined with children, the mental health toll became even steeper. In one study, no less than 28% of quarantined parents warranted a diagnosis of “trauma-related mental health disorder”.

What governments and NGOs can and should do today

There is broad consensus among academics about the psychological care following disasters and major incidents. Here are a few rules of thumb:

  • Make sure self-help interventions are in place that can address the needs of large affected populations;
  • Educate people about the expected psychological impact and reactions to trauma if they are interested in receiving it. Make sure people understand that a psychological reaction is normal;
  • Launch a specific website to address psychosocial issues;
  • Make sure that people with acute issues can find the help that they need


About Capt. Amit Singh

I think therefore I am Airlines Operations and Safety balance expert. A former head of operations/training and safety of successful LCC's in India. An experienced member of the startup teams of these airlines has hands-on experience in establishing airlines systems and processes.

1 Response

  1. Kavita

    Something that most of us, in our eagerness to get back to normalcy, may undermine or ignore. Thanks for shining a light on this very valid and important aspect Captain.

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