World Mental Health Day: It’s ok to not be ok

0 comments

World Mental Health Day: It’s ok to not be ok – SAFETY4SEA

World Mental Health Day: It’s ok to not be ok

The World Health Organisation recognizes World Mental Health Day on October 10th every year to remind us the importance of awareness in a growing topic for the business world globally. In an era where most working people have less time and more stress, mental health has risen as a big topic for every industry, and the maritime world could not stay unaffected. Mental health issues in shipping industry relate to the nature of seafarers’ job which is characterized not only by intensive work hours, but also by isolation, being away from family for too long, fatigue, and many others.

Maritime Health | 10/10/18

The World Health Organisation defines mental health “as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

This international day aims to raise awareness on mental health and put an end to the stigma that has forced many to suffer in silence. We all need to take mental health seriously and help in any way we can. Shipping industry has taken significant action toward that issue, in an effort to give seafarers’ mental wellbeing the priority that it so profoundly deserves. #4 Quick Facts about mental health

  • According to WHO, half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, while suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the 15-29 age group.
  • A survey to more than 1000 seafarers by Yale University and the Sailor’s Society showed 26% of seafarers had felt “down, depressed or hopeless”.
  • Organisations which prioritise the safety and welfare of their seafarers over business costs and performance have more developed safety cultures, lower levels of fatigue and sleep problems among their crews, according to a study by AMSA, University of Queensland and University of Western Australia.
  • A recent report by Inmarsat revealed a significant correlation of connectivity onboard with relaxation, showing that even limited access to Wi-Fi onboard ships helped reduce some of the emotional stresses that come with separation from families.

#20 signs that may indicate a mental health problem

  1. Changes in effectiveness at work;
  2. Poor concentration
  3. Eating less or more
  4. Sleeping less or more
  5. Drinking more
  6. Changes in mood and losing your temper easily
  7. Worrying constantly or imagining the worst
  8. Finding it hard to make decisions
  9. Feeling overwhelmed
  10. Feeling tired
  11. Talking less and feeling less interested in day-to-day activities
  12. Sweating
  13. Headaches or dizziness
  14. Muscle tension or pain
  15. Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  16. Frequent colds
  17. Upset stomach
  18. Breathlessness
  19. Dry mouth
  20. Nail biting

Key causes

What causes anxiety onboard cannot be exactly defined, as it often relates to multiple factors and their complex correlation. For seafarers, the demanding working environment with intense shifts and the different duties onboard is enough by itself to disrupt internal peace.

But then it comes the separation from family and loved persons which, combined with poor connectivity and multi-nationality, creates a sense of loneliness and isolation. What is more, the limited recreational activity may affect them; let us not forget that seafarers often spend their work break inside their working environment!

AMSA has provided a list summarizing the key causes of stress for seafarers:

  • Separation from family-friends and loneliness onboard
  • Concern over leaving loved ones behind
  • Lack of good quality sleep
  • Poor diet
  • Port inspections
  • Changing crew every few months
  • Working under time pressures
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Heavy seas for a long period
  • Claustrophobia -the fear of being enclosed in a small space

However, these are only the general factors that can objectively lead to a ‘mental health issue.’ First of all, we cannot forget that seafarers are human beings exactly as each one of us and can deal with their own personal problems and concerns, which they find harder to solve when they are far-far away.

How the industry responds

In line with a general awareness over the last years, mental health has gained an increased interest from the shipping industry comprising shipping companies, global associations, charities, P&I Clubs and others.

Let’s have a look on recent steps:

  • Reflecting the growing focus on the issue, the crew wellbeing was at the heart of ‘Day of the Seafarer 2018’ on 25 June 2018.
  • On the occasion of ‘Day of the Seafarer 2018’, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust and the World Maritime University announced a new crew welfare training programme to equip maritime professionals with key skills to support welfare onboard. Maritime Welfare (MARI-WEL) Professional Development Programme will be delivered as a distance learning course via an online portal, enabling participants to follow the programme from anywhere in the world. It constitutes the first programme of its kind to deliver a comprehensive overview of issues that relate to seafarer welfare.
  • In response of this year’s Day of the Seafarer 2018, members of ECSA; UK Chamber of Shipping and the Royal Dutch Shipowners Association have each launched webpages signposting seafarers to mental health charities, chaplain services and support networks.
  • In a joint initiative on World Mental Health Day 2018, the American Club and Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) announced they will produce a new guide, Caring for Seafarers’ Mental Wellbeing.
  • In May, UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) created new guidelines to help shipping companies set up policies on mental well-being.
  • In partnership with MHG Insurance Brokers, ISWAN announced the launch of a survey for seafarers who work on superyachts to investigate welfare issues to this specific sector.
  • The UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International and the National Union RMT jointly issued guidelines to shipping organizations on drawing up policies on the social, psychological and emotional well-being of the crew onboard.
  • This year, UK P&I Club received the SAFETY4SEA Initiative Award, sponsored by MacGregor, for its 22 year-Crew Health/PEME Program and for further inspiring several other Clubs to follow this initiative in creating their own crew health programs.

Addressing seafarer mental health issues: Do’s & Don’ts

SAFETY4SEA has prepared the infographic below depicting Do’s & Don’ts for shipping operators who want to address and support seafarers’ mental health:

A Top-10 Guide to Operators

  1. Encourage staff to be open about problems they are facing.
  2. When they do talk, listen, be respectful and do not make assumptions.
  3. Emphasize more on confidentiality.
  4. Encourage involvement on decision-making and finding solutions.
  5. Focus on Fatigue Management by incorporating it to SMS.
  6. Focus more on what employees can do and less on what they cannot
  7. Praise good work.
  8. Increase the levels of support seafarers receive while onboard.
  9. Encourage staff to seek further advice and support (for example from buddying or mentoring schemes).
  10. Educate and familiarize crews on personal resilience.

A Top-10 Guide to Seafarers

  1. Exercise: Exercise can clear your thoughts and get into a better state of mind to deal with your problems.
  2. Rest well: Take time for yourself, relax or connect with others on board.
  3. Eat well: A healthy diet is the A and Z to a sense of wellbeing.
  4. Socialize: Spend time with others. This can give anyone a sense of time out and can be a good distraction.
  5. Identify what is causing you stress: A list of stressful can relieve some pressure, while talking it over with someone trustworthy can also be beneficial. ISWAN and Shipowners Club have issued a roadmap for identifying the causes of stress. and an infographic for managing your worries.
  6. Get a quality sleep: set an alarm at a regular time each day, avoid computer and when you go to bed, and use your bed mainly for sleep.
  7. Distract yourself: Take your mind off your worries by keeping busy and finding something else to do
  8. Take a breath: Learn about the technique of controlled breathing.
  9. Don’t keep problems to yourself: Share your problems with a person which is close to you, even onboard or ashore.
  10. Give to others: Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word.

This is as much as the seafarer can do for theirselves. Wellbeing is a personal issue to some extent, but conditions can also be impactful.

On Mental Health Day 2018 we’d like to remind all people to put their well-being first. However, sending positive thoughts and supporting anyone struggling with mental health issues should not be limited only to that day.

In this context, we should always work together to give people the support they need and have empathy for those struggling. Notable efforts so far demonstrate that shipping is part of the action toward destigmatizing mental health and improving well-being across the industry!

Leave a Reply

SSCP   CAS-002   9L0-066   350-050   642-999   220-801   74-678   642-732   400-051   ICGB   c2010-652   70-413   101-400   220-902   350-080   210-260   70-246   1Z0-144   3002   AWS-SYSOPS   70-347   PEGACPBA71V1   220-901   70-534   LX0-104   070-461   HP0-S42   1Z0-061   000-105   70-486   70-177   N10-006   500-260   640-692   70-980   CISM   VCP550   70-532   200-101   000-080   PR000041   2V0-621   70-411   352-001   70-480   70-461   ICBB   000-089   70-410   350-029   1Z0-060   2V0-620   210-065   70-463   70-483   CRISC   MB6-703   1z0-808   220-802   ITILFND   1Z0-804   LX0-103   MB2-704   210-060   101   200-310   640-911   200-120   EX300   300-209   1Z0-803   350-001   400-201   9L0-012   70-488   JN0-102   640-916   70-270   100-101   MB5-705   JK0-022   350-060   300-320   1z0-434   350-018   400-101   350-030   000-106   ADM-201   300-135   300-208   EX200   PMP   NSE4   1Z0-051   c2010-657   C_TFIN52_66   300-115   70-417   9A0-385   70-243   300-075   70-487   NS0-157   MB2-707   70-533   CAP   OG0-093   M70-101   300-070   102-400   JN0-360   SY0-401   000-017   300-206   CCA-500   70-412   2V0-621D   70-178   810-403   70-462   OG0-091   1V0-601   200-355   000-104   700-501   70-346   CISSP   300-101   1Y0-201   200-125  , 200-125  , 100-105  , 100-105  , CISM   NS0-157   350-018  , NS0-157   ICBB  , N10-006 test  , 350-050   70-534   70-178   220-802   102-400   000-106   70-411  , 400-101   100-101  , NS0-157   1Z0-803   200-125  , 210-060   400-201   350-050   C_TFIN52_66  , JN0-102  , 200-355   JN0-360   70-411   350-018  , 70-412   350-030   640-916   000-105   100-105  , 70-270  , 70-462   300-070  , 300-070   642-999   101-400   PR000041   200-101  , 350-030   300-070  , 70-270  , 400-051   200-120   70-178   9L0-012   70-487   LX0-103   100-105  ,