Maritime workers’ union develops mental health guidelines

Maritime workers Maritime workers are required to spend extended periods of time alone, away from their families and loved ones, and they are therefore under severe mental strain. This mental strain is worsened by the current situation created by COVID-19, preventing crew changes from taking place and therefore forbidding them from returning home. This results in the worsening of many seafarers’ mental well-being. As a result, new guidelines to help seafarers’ mental well-being have been implemented in order to help shipping companies better prepare their workers. The guidelines, created by the UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International, and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), will look to create awareness for the importance of mental health among seafarers, and to encourage companies to develop a culture that improves the mental health of seafarers. There should be a person in charge of the policy, which reflects the commitment of the management of the company to abide by the policy. The company should also show concern for employees’ health, safety and welfare, and create a culture which fosters positive mental well-being. Shipping companies should also provide information either online or on noticeboards to inform seafarers on the importance of interacting and communicating with others. Lastly, the company should also provide the contact information of someone both within and outside of the company who are able to listen and discuss about the mental health status of seafarers. In order to accommodate seafarers with mental health issues who are returning to work, shipping companies should have a designated seafarer on board who is trained to handle mental health issues, allow them to seek external specialist support, as well as ease them back into work so as to not overwhelm them. Support should also be provided to maritime workers who have or are suspected of having a mental health issue, in order to make them feel like they are able to express themselves with the support of their company. With these policies in place, it is hoped that shipping jobs can shed its stigma of being mentally taxing and that seafarers may feel more open when talking about mental health issues.   Source: Safety4sea

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