For the past year, the importance of safeguarding seafarers’ well-being has been a theme of focus among the maritime community. Seafarers need to be aware and knowledgeable about stress and coping in order to strive toward a state of mental health and well-being.
Acknowledging the risks and personal costs endured by seafarers while at their jobs, talks on mental health and well-being were introduced during officers’ seminars organised by PIL and Ocean Tankers. During the PIL Officers’ Seminar, held in Goa (26-28 Jun) and Ocean Tankers Officers’ Seminar, held in Yangon (8-12 Jul), WMI representative Priscilla Leaong, conducted the talk on mental health and well-being. The topic generated much interest and was well received, with further conversations taking place during and after the session.
The general stressors of onboard life are well-known – seafarers are subject to fatigue, loneliness, sleeping disturbances, cultural differences, homesickness, piracy problems, communication limitations, bad cuisine and the likes. The bulk of stressors would be work-related, perhaps also rank-related. Although individual stress is personal and varied and some of the stresses are not easily shared among seafarers, seminar attendees were taught on how to thrive towards keeping a balanced psychological well-being. Awareness and knowing how to cope is a good start.
“The mental health of seafarers is a critical area that needs greater attention and support. Mariners have unique working conditions that can be a source of stress, and on top of that, limited opportunities for relief on board ships. An all rounded approach of emotional, physical and organisational factors, need to be adopted for the overall wellbeing of seafarers.”
– Mr Lim Tau Kok, WMI Advisor