To coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October, global maritime charity Stella Maris has teamed up with Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS) to provide seafarers with practical and useful tips to deal with the pressures of working at sea.
During their daily ship visiting duties, Stella Maris chaplains in the United Kingdom will start distributing a booklet produced by MHSS called ‘A Guide to Mental Health at Sea’.
The Guide is a compact and comprehensive document which provides seafarers with bite-size tips and strategies to look after their mental health, including the importance of diet, physical health, and socialising with colleagues on board.
“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”
– Martin Foley, Stella Maris CEO
“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,” he said.
MHSS Chief Executive Christian Ayerst 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 is a vital resource for any mariner struggling with their mental health or working with someone who may be suffering. This is why we are looking forward to our partnership with Stella Maris and the positive change this initiative will bring to those onboard,” he said.
By providing a listening ear and a becoming the trusted friends of seafarers, Stella Maris chaplains and ship visitors provide necessary and timely support to seafarers under pressure.
At the height of the pandemic when several cruise ships were moored long-term in Glasgow, the cruise company recognised the significant contribution of faith to the wellbeing of its crew and invited the Stella Maris chaplain on board. He was then able to arrange for 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. They play an integral part in helping seafarers cope with hugely stressful jobs, and the Guide to Mental Health at Sea now gives them another tool in their armoury,” said Stella Maris Head of Corporate Engagement and Partnerships Ian Stokes.