Thursday 13th Dec, 2018

Mental wellbeing guide for seafarers published

Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director, Seaman’s Church Institute
Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director, Seaman’s Church Institute

IN a joint initiative, the American Club and Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) have co-operated to produce a new guide, Caring for Seafarers’ Mental Wellbeing, due for release on 10 October in recognition of World Mental Health Day, 2018.

The document provides guidance on responding to both routine and extreme stressors impacting the quality of life and safety of seafarers both ashore and afloat, and seeks to promote awareness generally of the importance of seafarer mental wellbeing.

Numerous maritime organisations have supported recent initiatives to enhance understanding about the emotional – and psychological – highs and lows of life at sea, and thousands of seafarers have shared their personal stories with SCI staff amid routine, stressful, or tragic circumstances.

SCI president and executive director the Rev. David M. Rider, said the two organisations shared a passion and deep respect for the human factors involved in safe maritime commerce and quality of life for those who work on ships around the world.

“With nearly 300 years of combined maritime service, our organisations know intimately the triumphs, tragedies, and risks associated with maritime life,” he said.

“Together, we want to better understand the root causes of failure and the unique DNA of resilience embodied by seafarers at work 24/7/365 to support our modern way of life.”

Extreme stress can make seafarers vulnerable to mental health issues. No research has shown that seafarers suffer different rates of mental health problems than the general population or other working occupations. However, the World Health Organization has estimated that at any given time, approximately 20% of the adult population have a mental health problem, and that these mental health issues have attendant costs, for example, $192bn in lost earnings per year in the US alone.

Joseph E.M. Hughes, chairman and CEO of the Shipowners Claims Bureau, which manages the American Club, said service at sea is a particularly challenging vocation.

“It entails, in addition to often hard physical work, and sometimes real danger, dislocation from family and friends, native cultures, and the many other elements of psychological contentment,” he said.

“It is particularly important, therefore, that all stakeholders in maritime enterprise are conscious of the emotional challenges that arise from these conditions of seafarer service, and that they are equipped to handle their consequences.

“The American Club is particularly proud to have worked on the production of this booklet with the SCI. By learning from seafarers and educating the industry in this way, we seek to raise the profile of mental wellbeing as a key component of a healthy and effective working environment for seafarers.

“It is by no means exhaustive on the subject, but it is hoped that those who use it to enhance awareness of mental health as a real dimension of service at sea will find it to be useful in progressing their aims.”

The guide is produced in English (electronic and printed), new and traditional Mandarin (electronic only) and Russian (electronic only) and to access the new guide, Caring for Seafarers’ Mental Wellbeing, please visit:

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