Maritime Mental Health and Why It's Important
Mental Health Awareness Week
At Martek Marine, we believe your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
This year, Mental Health Awareness Week is running from the 10th-16th of May 2021 and the chosen theme is nature.
What is mental health week?
Mental Health Awareness Week is a time to reflect on not only our own mental health, but of those around us too, our friends, family, colleagues etc.
Mental health can affect us all one way or another, whether it’s our own struggles or watching a loved one suffer. 1 in 4 people in the UK alone suffer from mental health issues and we want you to know, you are not alone, not just for this week, but for all times. There are people you can talk to about mental health, even if you do not want to talk to those who know you.
The pandemic hit seafarers especially hard, with job losses and uncertainty about being able to leave their vessels. Many were stranded during the lockdowns and worries began to build regarding finances, job security and when they would be able to see their friends and families again.
Aims of Mental Health Awareness week
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health which may lead to people bottling up their feelings or feeling ashamed of seeking help.
This is not the case.
We want to join the fight to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health and provide people with information and support they may need.
Why do seafarers need support for their mental health?
Seafarers go long periods of time without seeing their friends or families and connectivity can become an issue.
Working at sea can also be a stressful and dangerous environment to work in. 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.
How is the maritime industry helping seafarers with their mental health?
There are many charities specifically for seafarers who use volunteers and chaplains to help crews onboard or on land once they are docked. The Mission To Seafarers help by providing vessels with Wi-Fi and SIM cards in order to help crews stay connected to loved ones whilst they are at sea and can provide counselling for those who would like it.
Tips to help your mental health
Speak out – Talk to your friends, family, colleagues or neighbors. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with people you know for any reason, there are various charities that can help you such as The Samaritans.
Keep Active – In line with the Mental Health Foundation’s goals, getting active has been proven to improve mental health, whether that’s jogging alone to your favorite playlist or going to a yoga class with a couple of friends. Inside or outside, day or night, whatever you prefer.
Treat Yourself – Even if it’s just to a nice bath or putting some time away for yourself to read that book you got for Christmas, make yourself your favorite food or buy yourself something you normally wouldn’t.
Set yourself one achievable goal – Finish the laundry, reply to the email you have been putting off, go on a 15 minute walk in your lunch break.
Make yourself comfortable – Try wearing your softest clothes and feel cosy and comfortable.
Signs someone might be suffering
Some signs people may show if they are suffering from poor mental health are:
- Poor concentration
- Being easily distracted
- Worrying more
- Finding it hard to make decisions
- Feeling less interested in day-to-day activities
- Low mood
- Feeling overwhelmed by things
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- Sleeping more or less
- Talking less and avoiding social activities
- Talking more or talking very fast, jumping between topics and ideas
- Finding it difficult to control your emotions
- Drinking more
- Irritability and short temper
List taken from Bupa Website
This list is just a suggestion of behaviors they might be exhibiting, it isn’t limited to this list, nor does it 100% mean that if someone is exhibiting these signs, they are mentally ill. Speak to the person if you are concerned but be sure to be mindful of their feelings and emotions. You don’t want to overwhelm someone or make them feel as if they are being cornered or attacked.
Avoid tactics such as guilt-tripping to get people to open up to you about their mental health as this could result in them feeling worse. Be as understanding as possible and let them know you are there, even if they just need somebody to listen to them.
Resources you can use
Mind is a mental health charity that provides support, resources, and information about everything you need to know regarding mental health. From terminology explanations to how you can help.
Check out their Mental Health Awareness Campaign here.
Free and confidential support 24 hours a day, with multilingual helplines as well as resources about mental health at sea.
Click here to find out more
Mental Health Foundation-
With access to scientific research regarding factors that have an affect on mental health such as COVID-19, podcasts and videos, events you can join in and how you can get involved if you would like to. Click here to find out more.
24 hour access to hotlines, emails, web chats, letter writings and self-help apps. The Samaritans number is: 116 123 if you need someone to speak with.
Don’t be afraid to reach out, it may feel like a small step, but it’s a small step in the right direction.
If you need immediate action and find yourself in crisis, ring 999 straight away.