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Karen Moore, Symbiotics

Mental Wellbeing in the Current Climate

The recent changes to EASA regulations around psychological profiling focus on assessing flight crew prior to recruitment, and it is indeed important to ensure that we select the right people, initially to enter the training pipeline, then for employment by a particular airline.

However, there is a real danger that the broader issue of mental health and wellbeing for ALL employees is ignored, and there is mounting evidence that cabin crew may be under more pressure than those on the flight deck. In addition, the changes to working practices following the Covid-19 pandemic will bring new challenges – emotional intelligence is a key attribute for cabin crew in working with passengers, and wearing face masks and other PPE introduces barriers to using this skill effectively.

After investing significantly in selection of personnel and in training, how do we ensure that we keep people performing effectively? At the end of the day, the shareholders want a strong return on investment, which means keeping people at work and doing their jobs. We will consider the methodology by which this might be achieved, and look at early results from assessment of mental health risk, in the context of the costs of getting it wrong.

By comparing the risk to mental wellbeing on eight key measures between individuals selected for resilience and those who have not undergone a robust selection process we can show that the right selection and monitoring processes can help keep people well. We will consider two key areas – what personality traits to assess for to give the greatest resilience to the various stresses put on cabin crew; and how mental health can be effectively and economically measured to best support them with the pressure they will encounter, as well as some key ways to cope better.

Karen Moore, Principal Occupational Psychologist, Symbiotics

Karen Moore is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist who has spent over 30 years designing and running assessment processes. Karen has had a lifelong interest in aviation, growing up with a pilot father. In 2017 she was able to pull the two interests together, joining Symbiotics as Principal Occupational Psychologist, with the remit of further developing their range of assessments for aviation, and other high-risk industry, applications. She has previously been responsible for the development of psychology services within a number of sectors, particularly assessment processes for all levels of recruiting and internal promotion, from graduates to board level positions. She is particularly concerned that personality profiling should not been seen as the route to protecting mental health, but as one indicator of the individual’s susceptibility.

Karen has been liaising with the UKCAA and the British Psychological Society to help establish a recognised resource for AOC’s to meet the regulatory requirement to involve suitably qualified psychologists in the implementation of their solutions for CAT. GEN.MPA.175. The focus of the regulation is, of course, pilots, but cabin crew face most of the same stressors, and a number of others in addition. Karen is concerned that the cabin crew will be left behind in the provision of appropriate support. 

As a holder of the BPS certificate Specialist in Test Use: Occupational, Karen has a strong interest in the appropriate application of psychometrics in assessment and development and has explored the use of a variety of measures in different situations.