Petter Hofstad, Senior Claims Executive of the Skuld Club, noted:

...The prevalent message is that mental well-being is not just about one's day to day happiness but about how an individual functions on a personal, social and professional level, having control and influence, a sense of meaning, belonging and connection along with the capability to manage problems and change.

There are various ways in which poor mental well-being has been shown to be detrimental to physical health: Most importantly, it can be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, Mr. Hofstad explains.

People with mental health conditions are less inclined to receive the physical healthcare they are entitled to. They are also not as likely to exercise, give up smoking, reduce alcohol consumption and make positive adjustments to their lifestyle or diet. Poor concentration, tiredness or low interest can lead to mistakes and are often found to be a factor in workplace accidents.

 

Early signs of poor mental well-being

  • poor concentration
  • worrying more
  • finding it hard to make decisions
  • feeling less interested in day-to-day activities
  • low mood
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • tiredness and lack of energy
  • sleeping more or less
  • talking less and avoiding social activities
  • drinking more
  • irritability and short temper

What can be done to promote physical and mental well-being onboard?

Adopting a system whereby employees can consider and address their own mental well-being. 

The charity Mind advises managers to:

  • Encourage staff to talk and be open about problems they are experiencing
  • Ensure confidentiality and provide an appropriate place for confidential conversations
  • When talking about an individual’s mental health listen, be respectful and do not make assumptions
  • Be positive – focus on what employees can do, rather than what they can’t, providing training, mentoring or coaching if there are skills gaps
  • Work together and involve people in finding solutions as much as possible
  • Support staff to develop personal resilience and coping strategies
  • Involve staff in dialogue and decision-making and remember that people are often the expert when it comes to identifying the support or adjustment they need and how to manage their triggers for poor mental health
  • Recognise and praise good work and commitment, providing regular opportunities to discuss, review and reflect on positive achievements – this can help people to build up positive self-esteem and develop skills to better manage their triggers for poor mental health
  • Encourage staff to seek further advice and support (for example from buddying or mentoring schemes), and seek advice and support yourself.

Encouraging regular "down time" and promoting sleep efficiency to assist in reducing fatigue.

As the Club has earlier advised, sleep efficiency is a ratio between the amount of time spent in bed and the time actually spent sleeping. So as an example, if someone spends eight hours in bed and sleeps for six hours their sleep efficiency is 75%. When calculating your sleep efficiency using the above method, if you score 85% or higher then this is a normal efficiency. Above 90% is very good, below 85% is poor. Insomnia often leads to sleep efficiency below 75%.

Prompting regular exercise whilst onboard.

It is widely considered that exercise releases endorphins to increase mental well-being and has physical health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of heart disease. As earlier reported, aerobic activity (designed to increase the body’s oxygen intake) helps to relieve stress, build muscle tone and bone strength, and provides a sense of wellbeing.