Special conditions for seafarers include weather concerns, piracy fears, workload, isolation, fatigue, etc. which can place seafarers under a lot more stress than someone working on land. Mr. Menon explains that when left unaddressed, these can result in lowered moral, conflict, mental health issues, increased human error, accidents, lifestyle illnesses, lowered productivity, burnout, and even suicide. Seafarers need to be adequately equipped to manage their personal wellness, he stresses.
One aspect of wellness that Mr. Menon believes is critical to address both by mitigating and responding to is mental health. He believes that:
“All shipping companies should ideally have a wellness management system so that a comprehensive approach is taken to provide proactive programs that help build awareness, resilience and wellness in all seafarers as well as remedial support that is provided to identify and help seafarers who may be struggling with mental health issues.”
Wallem's Wellness@sea guide is written in a way that allows everyday seafarers to understand the importance of wellness in their profession; an awareness of what factors can affect their wellness; as well as useful strategies they can use to take charge of their own wellness while at sea. There is also a segment in the guide that help officers know how to identify, support and help crew members who may be in distress.
Mr. Menon further explains: “Wallem is breaking down the stigma and helping normalise the fact that a mental health issue is just like any other health issue, as everything contributes to our overall wellness. Wallem is also helping support seafarers in understanding how they can take proactive measure to manage their wellness while at sea as well as understand that they can come forward if they at any time need support in this area.”
Top 5 tips on how seafarers can look after health & wellbeing:
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Exercise everyday
- Keep socially active with friends, family and colleagues
- Do something enjoyable everyday
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Above text is part of Wallem's interview with Kevin Menon which is company's True North magazine.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not a policy position of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
About Kevin Menon
Kevin Menon is clinical psychologist and author of Wallem’s Wellness@Sea guide. kevin has been working with Wallem Ship Management for over two years, helping to conduct wellness workshops at regular Wallem Fleet Officers’ Meetings held around the world.