The right to mental health

Physical and mental health on board as well as decriminalization of seafarers – these are always relevant topics for crew members and shipowners. A career at sea has always been risky. So, it is important that crew members observe all safety precautions applicable to his work or duty, but also manage to help their colleagues on board if necessary. This and other topics devoted to seafarers’ physical and psychological well-being were brought up at the Interlegal Shipping Talks.

Someone can say that depression, for example, is not even a real disease. If someone is a bit down in the dumps, it is no big deal! Someone can say that nothing like that will never happen to him, but he cannot catch his own depression weighed him down. No one can be ready to face this.

Suicide rates among seafarers have more than tripled since 2014 and are now the most common cause of death at sea, according to figures from the UK P&I Club. Unfortunately, crew deaths attributed to suicide have increased from 4.4 % in 2014-2015 to 15.3 % in 2015-2016.

“We are not entitled to have some psychological troubles” such a thought often runs into our heads, because we are afraid to become outsiders.

Do we notice such things? – “No”.

Do we assist or help someone? – “I do not know how”.

As a rule, this is the result of our indifference to others, because it is much easier “not to notice”, just to pass them by and hope that such situation will not ever happen to me.

No matter how valuable the cargo, vessel and other things on board are, just do not forget, none of these things is worth a man’s life. Not only the master or security officer (if any) is responsible for lives and health of seafarers on board. Every crew member takes a moral responsibility for his colleagues. There are no egoists on the vessel – every shipowner must have such a policy.

One Mental health definition says that Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of our life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It relates to the whole of life – our home and workplace environment. However, to most of us consider mental health as a part of our body or nature, which has been given to us ‘by default’. Many of us know how to take care of our physical health and even to give medical first aid. Very few are trained how to give psychological support to others or how to take care about personal mental health. Meanwhile, we sustain psychological injuries more often than physical one: stresses, anxiety, failure, rejection, loneliness. Such injuries get worse if we ignore them and may cause depression and even lead to suicidal ideation. Intelligent Management & Crises Response Solutions presented Well-being Training Program for Maritime Companies at Interlegal Ship Talks workshop. This program is designed for seafarers, their families, and office personnel of crewing and Maritime companies. Such soft skills training equips trainees with sets of skills, which will help them to deal with daily stressors, improve their communication and support their mental health. Series of trainings got positive feedback and have already shown positive results at Alpha Navigation, including office staff and groups of officers who work on merchant and passenger ships.