All at Sea: Mental health issues on board ship

There are over 52,000 commercial vessels operating out at sea, often for months at a time. The work requires mental toughness – the hours are long and physically demanding with split shifts and military-precision routine. The economic struggles faced by the maritime industry have also meant the reduction of crew numbers and an increase in work hours. All these factors contribute to physical and mental fatigue.

Happiness and mental welfare often depend on how well people get on and work together but, with most crews made up of a multitude of international, language barriers and cultural differences sometimes lead to seafarers being unable to form strong bonds with their colleagues. This results in feelings of isolation and loneliness and mental health issues have risen dramatically in recent years.

Two-thirds of people will experience some form of mental health issue at some point in their lives but for those working offshore, that figure is significantly higher. The suicide rates among seafarers have tripled since 2014 so something needs to be done about breaking the ‘macho bravado’ attitude adopted by many of those in the maritime industry towards mental health.

The question we need to start asking isn’t: ‘what are we doing about this epidemic?’ but rather: ‘what can I do to help?’ The time for preventative measures is over, we need to proactively support our friends and colleagues.

Being away from home for six months to a year is very common in our industry. Being unable to see family and friends is difficult, especially when sub-standard internet connectivity prevents people from keeping in close contact.  In a recent study, the Seafarers’ Trust reported that as many as 77% of crew members have strictly limited internet access or no internet access at all. Combine this with a quicker turnaround in ports and there’s no wonder that many seafarers feel trapped onboard ships with no access to the outside world.

Where do we go from here?

Getting guidance and support from a medical professional as early as possible is the best way to tackle mental health issues. While MLC 2006 states that ship-owners should provide prompt and adequate medical care that’s comparable as far as possible to that of workers onshore, the average merchant vessel has fewer than 25 crew so it’s not obligatory to have a doctor onboard. Therefore, most seafarers don’t have access to a professional who’s capable of helping them.

Until legislation is changed to better support those at sea, the problem of mental health will remain hidden away and out of sight.

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Ensuring compliance with potable water testing regulations on ships: a complete guide

Regulations surrounding potable water on ships

In August 2013, the Maritime Labour Convention’s (MLC) started to enforce their regulations (MLC 2006), aimed at maintaining high-quality drinking water onboard ships, to protect crew from waterborne health risks.

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Drug & Alcohol Screening: Isn’t it time that the ‘Drunken Sailor’ was confined to the past?

The concept of the ‘drunken sailor’ has been around almost as long as shipping itself. Long periods spent at sea can take their toll on seafarers and alcohol has long been a way to relieve the stresses and anxiety felt when separated from the outside world for weeks at a time. Folk songs and sea shanties aside, alcohol or drugs have been a contributing factor in some of the worst shipping catastrophes of the last 50 years, so much so that all vessels must now have a Drug and Alcohol policy onboard which sets out controlled and banned substances, as well as times and limitations for the consumption of alcohol. Drug and Alcohol screening play a large part in many shipping operator’s policies, yet the process isn’t set in stone for all vessels.

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Marine Healthcare: Top 3 Killers at Sea & How Telemedicine Systems Can Save Lives

Seafaring has long been one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. It’s not just the heavy machinery and difficult working conditions that contribute to fatality statistics, mariners are more at risk of certain illnesses and diseases which can be difficult to diagnose and treat with the limited resources found on a ship.

Here, we look at the Top 3 Killers at Sea and how telemedicine systems can help to save lives and make seafaring a safer occupation.

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Telemedicine Q & A with Charlie Whyman

Seafarers are the lifeblood of the shipping industry and are critical to its future sustainability. That said, are we doing enough to ensure the welfare of those at sea? Furthermore, could major improvements to crew welfare save the shipping industry millions of dollars per year?

The latest marine technology that’s just hit the market is turning inferior seafarer healthcare on its head. Called telemedicine, this groundbreaking technology is making SERIOUS waves in the maritime industry.

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Seafarer ‘left to die’ with gunshot wound on vessel

Gunshot wounds, severed limbs, broken bones, tropical diseases, allergic reactions and sudden cardiac arrest: just some of the emergencies experienced at sea according to results released in a recent seafarers’ survey carried out by maritime professionals’ trade union Nautilus International and global maritime technology innovator Martek Marine.

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Maritime industry take note: women are less effective at CPR than men!

It’s true, females perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation less efficiently than their male counterparts! The intriguing news comes on the back of a study carried out by researchers at the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel.

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Not long until Nor-Shipping: Don’t miss our hot off the press event news!

Martek Marine are delighted to be exhibiting at Nor-Shipping 2017, where a pioneering exhibition on disruptive sustainability offers visitors the opportunity to take a rare sneak peek at the must-see, disruptive breakthrough technologies being embraced by some of the largest maritime organisations and associations across the globe to radically improve their operations: maximising productivity, improving safety and reducing costs. The event takes place between May 30th and June 2nd at Norway Trade Fairs in Oslo.

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