Industry initiatives for seafarer wellness on World Mental Health Day

Wednesday 10 October is World Mental Health and with growing awareness and concern over the mental health of seafarers dislocated from family and friends for long periods it sees some new initiatives from the industry.

In a joint initiative, the American Club and Seamen's Church Institute (SCI) published a new guide “Caring for Seafarers’ Mental Wellbeing”.

The guide provides guidance on responding to both routine and extreme stressors impacting the quality of life and safety of seafarers both ashore and afloat, as well as promoting general awareness of seafarer mental health issues.

Rev. David M. Rider, president & executive director, Seaman’s Church Institute, said: “Together, we want to better understand the root causes of failure and the unique DNA of resilience embodied by seafarers at work 24/7/365 to support our modern way of life.

“Extreme stress can make seafarers vulnerable to mental health issues. No research has shown that seafarers suffer different rates of mental healthproblems than the general population or other working occupations. However, the World Health Organization has estimated that at any given time, approximately 20% of the adult population have a mental health problem.”

Joseph Hughes, chairman and ceo of Shipowners Claims Bureau, Inc., managers for the American Club, said: “Service at sea is a particularly challenging vocation. It entails, in addition to often hard physical work, and sometimes real danger, dislocation from family and friends, native cultures, and the many other elements of psychological contentment. 

“It is particularly important, therefore, that all stakeholders in maritime enterprise are conscious of the emotional challenges that arise from these conditions of seafarer service, and that they are equipped to handle their consequences.”

To access the new guide, Caring for Seafarers’ Mental Wellbeing, please go to: https://www.american-club.com/page/seafarer-wellness

Meanwhile Singapore-based ship manager Synergy Group has launched a new service iCALL offering support to those at sea and ashore 24/7 and in nine different languages.

The confdential and anonymous service can be accessed via phone, email and the chat-based nULTA App and is available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Sindhi and Kutchi.

“Numerous studies into the psychological health of seafarers have shown that large numbers of seafarers suffer from obvious manifestations of impaired psychological wellbeing such as social isolation and depression,” said Rajesh Unni, ceo and founder of Synergy Group.

“That’s why we decided to create a 24/7 counselling centre for anybody who’s sailing, not just Synergy personnel. It is also available to shore-based personnel anywhere in the world.

iCALL currently has 14 counsellors located at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai.

A long time champion of seafarer wellness charity Sailor's Society is launching a Wellness at Sea Week . Starting on Sunday 4 November, the week will include a number of activities focusing on the five modules of Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea programme – physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual wellness.

It will include a Wellness at Sea Seminar and a Wellness at Sea Debate to be held in Hong Kong on 9 November.

Posted 10 October 2018

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Marcus Hand

Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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