Trade union Nautilus has supported calls for improved services to help seafarers deal with the increasing pressures of working at sea.
The union has backed a number of initiatives including action to raise awareness of the challenges that seafarers face and the need for programs to support them in dealing with the impact of issues such as stress, fatigue, long working hours, and isolation.
“Seafarers face particular challenges that can lead to workplace stress, such as long working hours, and frequent absences from home. While these conditions are part and parcel of a seafarer’s job, the union is campaigning for greater mental health awareness and for mental health training to be incorporated into first aid training onboard ships, so that the topic is no longer taboo, and crew is not discriminated against,” Mark Dickinson, Nautilus’ General Secretary, commented.
Dickinson added the union’s Women’s Forum members had, in March 2017, got the backing of the Trades Union Congress to urge companies to put measures in place to enable seafarers to flag up stress-related factors at work, and for owners to provide them with access to recreational and welfare facilities including adequate shore leave and access to communications including the internet.
Nautilus said it also supports the work of The Sailors’ Society wellness at sea coaching program and its health and well-being initiatives.
Additionally, The Shipowners’ Club stressed its commitment to improving standards for mental health and wellbeing within the marine industry. Last year, the club recorded several claims involving crew members with suspected mental health issues.
The club said the high rates of suicide in the marine industry underline the challenges the industry faces in improving standards for mental health and wellbeing. In recognition of this, the club has published an article outlining some of the key symptoms of mental health signifiers among seafarers and makes recommendations for mental health interventions onboard.
The initiatives backed by Nautilus coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week held from May 8 to 14, 2017.
“This Mental Health Awareness Week we call on owners and operators to review the pressure put on crews and to ensure that suitable support mechanisms are in place,” Andrew Wright, The Mission to Seafarers’ Secretary General, pointed out.