Seafarers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing

Work, ties with the family, a sincere friendship between colleagues, a healthy life with a reduction in the risks associated with the abuse of smoking and alcohol, physical activity, a balanced diet are important in the seafarer’s life.

The peculiarities of maritime work associated with the distance from the family and the often difficulties of communication create conditions that significantly increase psychophysical stress.

Recent attention has been paid to these aspects, so much so that several types of research have found dangerously high levels of mental stress among seafarers, and recommended how it can be reduced.

One study by Yale University, commissioned by the ITF Seafarers Trust, spoke to 1,572 seafarers representing serving seafarers of different ranks across the world, on a variety of vessels with different flags.

It found that within two weeks prior to being surveyed:

20 percent had contemplated suicide or self-harm

25 percent had suffered from depression

17 percent had experienced anxiety.

Shipping companies are recently sensitive to these important aspects of seafarers’ lives. The various initiatives in the sector are recent.

One of the many comes from Vikand who together with Marine Profile, a group of Swedish psychologists, has activated the MAP (Maritime Assistance Program) to provide mental well-being support to officers, staff and crew suffering from anxiety, stress or depression.

Another interesting initiative comes from ISWAN which offers Seafarers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing, a free training package produced in partnership with KVH Videotel.