Just as space flight can exact a significant toll on the human body, it can also prove to be psychologically stressful. Factors ranging from sleep loss and anxiety to communication difficulties and team dynamics can affect the health, safety, and productivity of crewmembers.
Due to the high demands that space flight places on crewmembers and the low margin of error that exists when it comes to maintaining safe conditions, behavioral health and performance is an important research area for the HRP. Ongoing studies seek to find solutions for keeping the crew motivated and productive while maintaining morale and team cohesion during space flight.
A variety of psychological, physiological, and environmental tools are used to help optimize the behavioral health and mental function of crewmembers. Crewmembers receive extensive training and education to help them identify early warning signs and apply self-assessment tools and treatments. External and environmental tools such as sleep-enhancing lights and unobtrusive monitoring devices have also been developed by the HRP's behavioral health researchers. As future missions prolong the average length of time each crewmember will spend in space, research teams will turn their focus to the unique performance challenges posed by extended space flight.