Global maritime charity Stella Maris has teamed up with Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS) to provide seafarers with practical tips for dealing with the pressures of working at sea.
The partnership, announced on World Mental Health Day (10 October), will see Stella Maris chaplains in the UK distributing the MHSS booklet ‘A Guide to Mental Health at Sea’ to crew members during their daily ship visits.
The booklet offers seafarers bite-sized tips and strategies for practising good mental hygiene when sailing the world’s oceans. Issues covered include the importance of socialising with colleagues and staying safe while working. It also raises awareness of mental health at sea, complementing the well-being strategies that MHSS – provider of 24/7 psychological support to the maritime industry – develops for companies.
“Everyone’s mental health fluctuates in response to life events,” said Stella Maris Chief Executive Martin Foley. “For seafarers, the ups and downs of life are magnified by many aspects of the job, especially being away from their families for long periods and not being able to control or help with events at home. “We are particularly pleased to be working with MHSS to give seafarers some of the tools necessary to improve their own and others’ mental health.”
Christian Ayerst, CEO of MHSS, added, “It’s common knowledge that the stresses and strains of working at sea can have a detrimental effect on crew members’ mental health. However, their anxieties are likely heightened by the extraordinary times we’re living in, with seafarers unable to get off ships or be repatriated because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our guide, created by MHSS psychologists with maritime industry experience, is a vital resource for any mariner struggling with their mental health or working with someone who may be suffering.”
By providing a listening ear and becoming the trusted friends of seafarers, Stella Maris chaplains and ship visitors provide necessary and timely support to crew members under pressure. At the height of the pandemic, when several cruise ships were moored long-term in Glasgow, a cruise company that recognised the importance of faith to its crew members invited a Stella Maris chaplain onto its vessels. The chaplain arranged regular services for the staff who remained on those ships.
“Stella Maris chaplains and ship visitors worldwide conduct up to 70,000 ship visits a year around the globe,” said Ian Stokes, Stella Maris’ Head of Corporate Engagement and Partnerships. “They play an integral part in helping seafarers cope with hugely stressful jobs, and the MHSS guide now gives them another tool in their armoury.”