Let’s change the mental health discussion at sea

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The maritime industry is facing a mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety and depression have increased by over 25% since the start of the pandemic, negatively affecting worker morale and, crucially, safety. A report from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found that key roles on ships were more susceptible to burnout, exacerbated by loneliness, limited social activities, and long work hours.

The industry needs to rid itself of old attitudes towards mental health that are prevalent on ships, where stoicism is seen as a desirable personality trait. Martin Hedman, a psychologist at the Mental Wellness Practice at VIKAND, argues that mental health care at sea should be viewed as an investment rather than an expense. Crew workers who are physically and mentally healthy are not only more productive, but they are also safer. Companies that invest in seafarer wellbeing reduce the risk of absenteeism and accidents, which can leave crews vulnerable and understaffed.

Experts suggest increasing awareness of mental health issues at sea and offering better education and support for seafarers and their employers. The stigma attached to mental health is a significant obstacle that needs to be overcome through discussion, education, and policy changes. Employers need to invest in education and better support services for improving worker wellbeing. Easy access to mental health resources, both preventive and curative, is essential to improve the mental health of seafarers and create a culture of safety and support. Ultimately, companies that seek to address challenges of mental health at sea, investing in the mental health and wellbeing of their employees, will see positive business outcomes for themselves in the long-run.

Tags: Crewing,Management & Crewing,mental health


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