More than 50 shipping companies are getting on board Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea Awareness programme: giving their crews, their families and shore staff vital wellness training and support to help them physically and mentally cope with the stresses of the pandemic.
The 27-week programme starts this week, providing a series of resources and advice about staying well across the main areas of life – from relationships to mental health, physical fitness to spiritual wellbeing.
Sara Baade, CEO of Sailors’ Society, said: “We’re delighted that so many companies are getting on board with Wellness at Sea and recognising just how important good physical and mental wellbeing is for the people that power the shipping industry.
“This has never been more important than now, as the pandemic continues to surge through crew supply countries, causing even more uncertainties and anxieties over job security and length of contracts.
“There is a real risk of a mental health pandemic which will far outlast the virus – but if we work together to give seafarers, their families and shore staff this advice and support, we can help turn the tide on this crisis, protecting the future of our industry and the people it relies on.”
The free programme, which ran last year in response to the pandemic, has now expanded to include advice and support for seafarers’ families and shore staff as well as the crews themselves.
Chris South, Senior Underwriter, West of England P&I Club said: “Crew mental wellbeing has often been overlooked when compared with the attention given to physical safety. West is proud to sponsor Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea programme which seeks to protect the mental health of the crews, their families and the shore staff who support them.
“We are pleased to see that focus has shifted throughout the pandemic, with more seafarers gaining access to help with programmes such as Wellness at Sea, but more still needs to be done. Along with Sailors’ Society, we hope to engage owners, managers and wider stake holders in the shipping industry all of whom rely on seafarers for the safe and efficient operation of their crew and vessels.”
The Wellness at Sea Awareness programme will provide a variety of materials, from posters to podcasts, which have been specially developed for crews, their families and shore staff.
They will also be given the opportunity to join peer support groups and invited to take advantage of Sailors’ Society’s helpline, which offers free help for those struggling with their mental health – or who would just benefit from someone to talk to.
Peter Langslow, Managing Director, Swire Pacific Offshore Operations (Pte) Ltd said: “As a shipowner and long term partner of Sailors’ Society, Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) recognises the strong support to seafarers and their families that the charity has always provided.
“Since 2019, we have adopted the Wellness at Sea programme, aiming to equip our seafarers with the best resources and tools to cope with the heightened stresses caused by the pandemic. With the structured wellness programme and access to Sailors’ Society’s confidential helpline, our seafarers are empowered to take charge of their own mental wellbeing as well as to be more mindful of the wellbeing of their co-workers. The feedback from our seafarers has been positive, and we have recently extended the helpline and chat function to our seafarers’ families, and also conducted online Wellness at Work workshops for shore-based employees.”
The awareness campaign is just one of the resources on offer as part of Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea campaign – from training to chaplaincy support and arranging counselling for those who need it.
The charity has also announced that it is updating its Wellness at Sea e-learning platform in response to the pandemic and will be making it free for all seafarers when it launches later in the year.
Dr Michelle Grench, Manager, Vessel Operations, Australian Maritime Authorities said: “Seafarer welfare is key to ensuring continued safety outcomes at sea. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is committed to continuing to support initiatives that contribute to seafarer welfare such as the Wellness at Sea Awareness campaign. This unique programme will make a real difference to the lives and welfare of seafarers, their families, and shore staff, contributing to a vital conversation about wellbeing and mental health.”