Grief counseling to those who have lost a loved one is necessary, while, those who have been injured, besides medical assistance, also require mental health counseling. By Dr Prerna Kohli
The recent crash of Air India Express flight IX-1344, en route from Dubai to Kozhikode, Kerala that killed 18 onboard, including Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe and Captain Akhilesh Kumar, and left 149 others severely injured, shook the nation.
My heart goes out to all the families and friends who have lost their loved ones, and others impacted by this plane crash. In my thoughts are also the two very brave pilots — Captain Deepak Sathe and co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar, who provided the best landing they could to their passengers. May their souls rest in peace.
In a country where travel-related accidents are not uncommon, what the authorities fail to address is that more than the physical damage that such tragedies cause, it’s the psychological damage that’s the actual evil and needs attention.
Grief counselling to those who have lost a loved one is necessary while those who have been injured besides medical assistance require mental health counselling too.
Air travel is often considered the safest among all other forms of travel, as statistically it holds a very rare probability of an accident. Yet, many suffer from the fear of flying which is also called Aviophobia.
The fear of flying is accentuated by the media’s portrayal of any plane accident that occurs. The media shows the accident as something that occurs frequently, rather than stating facts about the safety of aeroplane travel. The excessive coverage by television channels changes the viewer’s perception of flying, which often leads to aviophobia.
However, claustrophobia (fear of crowded/confined spaces) or acrophobia (fear of heights), could also lead to aviophobia; another contributing factor being anxiety of a crash or malfunction.
I have helped many patients overcome their fear of flying, which can be done by identifying what triggers it the most and managing it when the anxiety is low. Other factors that can prove valuable in reducing the fear, are, proper knowledge about aeroplane accident rates as compared to other modes of transport, engaging in activities that distract you from scary thoughts, meditation or other breathing exercises before boarding the flight.
In extreme cases, psychologists are known to accompany their patients on flights to counsel them before and during the flight. Fortunately, the fear of flying can be overcome with the help of counselling.