In a joint initiative, the American Club and Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) have cooperated to produce a new guide, Caring for Seafarers’ Mental Wellbeing, due for release on October 10 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 organizations 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.
The Rev. David M. Rider, President & Executive Director, Seaman’s Church Institute, said:
“Coming from our insurance and humanitarian perspectives respectively, the American Club and the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) share 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 organizations know intimately the triumphs, tragedies, and risks associated with maritime life. 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, $192 billion in lost earnings per year in the United States alone.
Joseph E.M. Hughes, Chairman and CEO, Shipowners Claims Bureau, Inc., Managers for 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.
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.”
Sea News, October 11