Mental health of seafarers – The Manila Times
We celebrate National Mental Health Week every two weeks of October in accordance with Proclamation No. 452, signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1994. This coincides with the celebration of World Mental Health Day October 10.
In the United States, however, May 2021 has been proclaimed National Mental Health Awareness Month by US President Joseph R. Biden Jr., taking into account “the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crisis. resulted. [that] has had an impact on the mental health of millions of Americans. “
On the other hand, UK Mental Health Awareness Week takes place May 10-16 this year.
As a result, the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), the UK-based international society for seafarers, will host the 1st Global Conference on the Mental Health and Well-Being of Seafarers. May 25-26, 2021. It will be a gathering of key stakeholders in the maritime sector to discuss the issue and come up with solutions to better meet the needs of seafarers around the world.
The mental health status of seafarers has been studied in recent years. In 2019, such a study was conducted by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), a UK-based global organization for health and safety professionals. Seeking to shed new light on the issue of seafarer mental health, this research aimed to find out “whether seafarer poor mental health is seen as an important issue by key stakeholders; what factors seafarers identify as promoting or compromising mental health and well-being on board cargo ships; and what policies and practices could be implemented by ship operators to better support the mental health and well-being of seafarers. “
What differentiates the study from those conducted previously is that it focuses on what seafarers consider to be good for their happiness and well-being.
The results indicate that the mental health and well-being of seafarers is considered important by maritime charities, employers’ associations and trade unions. Research has also revealed that seafarers and some employers favor proactive measures such as improved communications and recreational facilities, food, shore leave, work-to-work ratios,
furnishings, officer training and the provision of counseling services, employment conditions and deterrents against bullying and harassment, which are essential to improving mental health and well-being on board. These measures are likely to be more effective than the reactive strategies that can be offered now.
The study also found that “significantly more seafarers report being happy or very happy at home than they are happy or very happy on board”. In addition, 55 percent of the employers surveyed indicated that they had not put in place any policy or practice to address seafarer mental health in the past ten years.
That same year, a Yale University study commissioned by ITF Seafarers’
The confidence revealed “dangerously high levels of mental stress among seafarers”.
It was even before the pandemic that shook our lives in the deepest and most radical way. It also crippled many industries, including the shipping industry. In a 2020 industry-wide seafarer welfare survey conducted by Lloyd’s Register, 54 percent of seafarers felt that no assistance was being provided to help them manage stress and fatigue.
The research also highlighted the significant crew change crisis that affected seafarers and their families during the year of the pandemic.
Captain Panos Stavrakakis, co-chair of the 1st Global Conference on the Mental Health and Well-Being of Seafarers, said that “the program of the two-day conference will examine practical approaches and highlight solutions that can be implemented to resolve ongoing issues. This is an extremely important area and one which has not been properly addressed by the industry so far. Together we must raise awareness, overcome stigma and understand the effects of working at sea. ”
The life of seafarers is difficult enough under ordinary circumstances. This has become even more true in the conditions caused by the pandemic. It becomes even more difficult due to the stigma attached to mental illness, which raises concerns that talking about it and asking for help could lead to job loss.
Seafarers virtually run the world economy. Ninety percent of the world’s food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured goods are transported to their destination by sea. Almost everything sold in the world is carried by ships, which need skilled sailors to operate, maintain and repair. This process will stop if seafarers stop working.
With this lecture, we are starting to tell our sailors that they do not have to struggle in silence, in shame. Even Prince Harry revealed that in his experience, “once you start talking about [grappling with mental health], you realize that in fact, you are part of a fairly large club. This alone is a great step forward towards healing.
We hope this conference will be just the first of those conferences, where mental health needs are abundant, according to Glenn Close: “more sun, more candor, more shameless conversation.”