Today is World Mental Health Day, and we must acknowledge that mental health is as important as physical health, which is especially the case when it comes to our seafarers. Recent studies suggest 25% of seafarers could have depression, noticeably higher than other industries and general populations (Seafarer Mental Health Study, Yale University funded by ITF Seafarers’ Trust).
Poor mental health can lead to experiences of anxiety, depression and stress which may result in incidents on board a vessel which risks the wellbeing and safety of all during the vessel operations. In some occasions, poor mental health, if unattended can deteriorate into tragic consequences.
The cause of mental health struggles comes from the naturally challenging role a seafarer has to take whilst in the profession. Now conditions are more challenging than ever, as seafarers continue to work with post pandemic conditions, continue to be away from home for extended periods of time and continue to have very minimal access to connectivity services to contact loved ones, all are contributing to a poor mindset and mental health issues.
Strong mental health can help generate a better work environment, allowing more productivity and work satisfaction amongst seafarers, which is the responsibility of everyone in the maritime industry.
Open dialogue is often regarded as taboo with a lot of stigma surrounding the subject, making challenges more difficult to deal with. However, times are slowly changing and there is support offered in our industry, through charities, unions, helplines and most importantly training and education to support awareness of the issues surrounding Mental Health. Raising awareness through education will reduce the stigma, giving knowledge and tools to address these issues, as well as setting up future generations of seafarers to be prepared.
Seably offer a free online mental health training course. After the training course, seafarers will have several tools to strengthen their mental health. However, this is not a quick fix. To experience improvements from the course seafarers have to use the tools continuously. This course has been created by Martti Simojoki, Senior Loss Prevention Manager and Johanna Kull at Alandia. Martti has many years’ practical experience of working at sea from his previous positions as a Captain and Marine Superintendent for a global shipping company.
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