Following World Mental Health Day (10th October) Alexander Buchmann, Managing Director at Hanseaticsoft GmbH, part of Lloyd’s Register’s Maritime Performance Services division, is appealing to shipping companies do more to look after seafarer’s mental wellbeing.
The report from the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) found that despite ongoing work, many seafarers still felt mental health issues were poorly understood not just by employers but among seafarers themselves.
Other key findings include:
Working at sea is extremely challenging, being based in a unique social environment
A range of structural issues were seen to impose strain on seafarer’s mental wellbeing, including long working hours, isolation, fatigue, and financial instability
COVID-19 has contributed to further strain among seafarers
To address these concerns, the UK Government announced a plan which includes £2.4 million of funding to support seafarers’ mental wellbeing, plus a new digital tool from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) aimed at seafarers dealing with mental health issues.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘make mental health and wellbeing a global priority’. The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report published by The Mission to Seafarers shows a welcome rise in optimism following a record low last quarter[vi] but the authors suggest now is not the time for complacency.
They highlight that workloads and having enough time to take advantage of fitness and wellbeing facilities are still issues for many seafarers. They add that that the issue of rest, sleep, quality time and a chance to move beyond relentless, repetitive demands are the requirements which will make seafaring attractive in the future.
Alexander Buchmann, Managing Director of Hanseaticsoft GmbH said: “Poor mental health is an ongoing issue for the shipping industry; more can be done to tackle poor mental wellbeing. To enable real change, it is vital to raise awareness of mental wellbeing and provide a supportive environment where seafarers can address concerns. Breaking the stigma of mental health is key to improving the working lives of seafarers.
“World Mental Health is an opportune moment for companies to look at what support they can offer and commit to making changes. One way they can do this is by providing better internet access so crew can keep in touch with family and friend, as well as access health and wellbeing support.
“Apps such as the new digital wellbeing tool from the MCA along with networks and charities that can be found online can really make a big difference to people’s lives at sea and help them cope with any struggles they may have. Better internet access can also enable companies to go digital with more processes which in turn can relieve seafarers from repetitive tasks and improve their working environment.”
Hanseaticsoft’s cloud-based system, Cloud Fleet Manager (CFM) can be used across many shipping operations from maintenance and crewing to purchasing and wellbeing. It allows data to be stored centrally and accessed by any employee wherever they are based. This reduces administrative workloads and removes the need for emails to go back and forth as information can be accessed by the entire workforce, in one central place.
There is also a module that can directly improve wellbeing. The Rest Hours Module, part of Cloud Crewing, helps ensure seafarers get enough sleep and rest which is essential for good health. It digitalises and centralises the management of rest hours, allowing crews to enter their own rest hours rather than relying on someone else to collect and enter the data.
Source: Hellenic Shipping News