The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) reports that exceptional stresses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic may have eased, but life remains extremely challenging for many seafarers.
One of the main concerns raised to ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp helpline in 2022-23 was financial difficulties – contacts (calls and messages) relating to financial difficulties more than doubled compared to 2021-22.
Discrimination and harassment
A key group of issues reported by seafarers across ISWAN’s helplines in 2022-23 was abuse, bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence (ABHDV). SeafarerHelp saw a 13% increase in the number of contacts relating to these issues compared to the previous financial year.
Additionally, ISWAN’s data indicates that women seafarers are disproportionately affected by these issues.
Stress and anxiety
Psychological health problems including stress and anxiety were among other prominent issues raised by seafarers to SeafarerHelp in 2022-23, along with the impact of working in areas affected by war or piracy attacks.
Yacht Crew Help
The proportion of contacts relating to ABHDV on ISWAN’s Yacht Crew Help helpline was higher than its counterpart, accounting for 16% of all issues raised by yacht crew in 2022-23 (compared to 2% of all issues raised to SeafarerHelp by seafarers in other industries).
On Yacht Crew Help, psychological health problems were the top issue raised by yacht crew, with crew frequently talking about the impact on their mental health of long working hours, lack of sleep, alcohol or drugs onboard, or difficulty fitting into the crew culture. Contractual issues also accounted for a high proportion of contacts to Yacht Crew Help, with enquiries relating to unpaid wages accounting for 11% of all issues raised.
As we move forward, we will continue to strengthen our relationships within the industry and collaborate and cooperate with our colleagues in the maritime welfare sector to ensure that seafarers get the services they need. Whatever we do, it is incumbent upon us to ensure we are at all times focused on the needs of seafarers.
… said ISWAN’s Chief Executive Officer, Simon Grainge