The updated guidance includes advice on helping seafarers to deal with emotional stress and overcome negative feelings.

Additional guidance on cyber-related issues has been included and this is important as electronic communication has proved to be key during the pandemic.

While this guidance has been written during the Covid-19 global pandemic, the key principles are applicable at any time. INTERTANKO informed

Among many issues, the guide refers to the signs of stress and poor mental health

Good ship management support is crucial in assisting wellbeing, spotting early signs of distress and initiating early interventions. Stress can take a toll on people physiologically and in the long run, it can affect the immune system of a person.

 Spotting the signs of stress and poor mental health

Reaching out early can signal to your onboard teams that you are concerned for their welfare. Following the advice regarding effective communication will also help to ensure that you come across as sincere and caring rather than simply concerned about performance. In that regard, INTERTANKO advises to always keep in mind that the current situation may not go away overnight and you should focus on longer term working capacity rather than repeated short-term crisis responses.

In such difficult times, demonstrating empathy is vital. Certainly, it’s not always easy to understand why someone feels or thinks the way that they do. As such, empathy allows you to understand others without passing judgment or making assumptions and the guide suggests dos and don'ts to foster empathy.

Questions to ask 

  • How are you doing at the moment?
  • How is your family doing?
  • You seem to be a bit down/ upset/ under pressure/ frustrated/ angry. Is everything okay?
  • Is there anything I can do to help? What support do you think might help?

Questions to avoide

  • You’re clearly struggling. What’s up?
  • Why can’t you just get your act together?
  • What do you expect me to do about it?
  • Your performance is unacceptable right now – what’s going on?
  • Everyone else is in the same boat and they’re okay, why aren’t you?

Find out more by reading Intertanko's second edition of its Crew Welfare Management and Mental Wellness guide.