According to Menon, wellness is particularly important when it comes to life at sea due to the unique conditions seafarers face. These include weather concerns, piracy fears, workload, isolation, fatigue, etc. which can place seafarers under a lot more stress than someone working on land.
He explains that when left unaddressed, these can result in lowered moral, conflict, mental health issues, increased human error, accidents, lifestyle illnesses, lowered productivity, burnout, and even suicide.
He stresses, “Seafarers need to be adequately equipped to manage their personal wellness.”
One aspect of wellness that Menon believes is critical to address both by mitigating and responding to is mental health.
He believes that, “All shipping companies should ideally have a wellness management system so that a comprehensive approach is taken to provide proactive programs that help build awareness, resilience and wellness in all seafarers as well as remedial support that is provided to identify and help seafarers who may be struggling with mental health issues.”
Wallem's Wellness@sea guide is written in a way that allows everyday seafarers to understand the importance of wellness in their profession; an awareness of what factors can affect their wellness; as well as useful strategies they can use to take charge of their own wellness while at sea. There is also a segment in the guide that help officers know how to identify, support and help crew members who may be in distress.
“Wallem is breaking down the stigma and helping normalise the fact that a mental health issue is just like any other health issue, as everything contributes to our overall wellness,” the psychologist remarked.
Menon’s top five tips on how seafarers can look after health & wellbeing:
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Exercise everyday
- Keep socially active with friends, family and colleagues
- Do something enjoyable everyday
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.