Standard Club and Sailors’ Society issued some practical tips in order to boost seafarers’ mental wellness onboard.
ith COVID-19 pandemic increasing depression and anxiety, it is of vital importance for crew to keep mentally fit.
Seafarer wellbeing has been a focal topic for Standard Club in recent years, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic and we are proud to be working in partnership with Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea programme, sharing helpful advice and resources over several weeks.
…Standard Club notes.
Following the situation of increased depression and anxiety due to the pandemic, Standard Club and Sailors’ Society consider the above statistics released by Yale University in 2019, pre-Covid:
- 25% of seafarers completing a patient health questionnaire had scores suggesting signs of depression (significantly higher than other working and general populations).
- 17% of seafarers completing a generalised anxiety disorder questionnaire were defined as seafarers with anxiety.
- 20% of seafarers surveyed had suicidal thoughts, either several days (12.5%), more than half the days (5%) or nearly every day (2%) over the two weeks prior to taking the survey.
- Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts were associated with increased likelihood of injury and illness while working on board the vessel.
- Seafarer depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts were associated with increased likelihood of planning to leave work as a seafarer in the next six months.
The statistics are startling, and you could have been one of those who responded to the health questionnaire, but recognising the signs is the first step in recovery.
However, Standard Club and Sailors’ Society note the top tips to stay mentally fit:
Share your problems
Talking about your feelings is a positive step towards good mental health. Try to talk to people you trust about your experiences and emotions. If you have the opportunity to regularly talk to someone on shore it will help a lot.
If communication is a problem and you are bound to your ship, identify someone on board you can trust. If all else fails try to write your emotions and feelings in a diary and reflect on previous days and your general mood.
There is a strong link between what we eat and how we feel. Make sure that you are comfortable with your diet and be on the lookout for food that triggers certain emotions.
Experts believe that exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better.
Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy. Many exercise programmes exist that are specifically aimed at helping you keep fit on board. Work out a fitness routine that will fit in with your specific circumstances while on board.
Look out for others
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together. You now have the knowledge to see the signs of poor mental health in someone else – reach out, and give a helping hand where you can.
Stay in touch
Friends and family can make you feel included and cared for. They can offer different views from whatever is going on in your own head.
It is sometimes difficult to keep in touch when you are at sea. Perhaps write a letter about what you are experiencing and make sure that it is posted in the next port you visit. Make ‘remember notes’ on important stories you want to tell the people you care for.
Learn to be comfortable in your own skin
Some of us make people laugh, some are good at maths while others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently. We’re all different. Accept that you are a unique human being, unlike anyone else out there.
Have a rest
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five minute pause from the task you are busy with or a half hour lunch break in a different location on the ship. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you.
Ask for help
None of us are superhuman. We all get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel, or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help.
Do something you enjoy
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself helps beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. Make sure you take an activity you like with you on board.