The impact of mental health issues on global shipping has to be addressed according to the Crew Welfare Director of a leading P&I Club.
Sophia Bullard, Crew Welfare Director at UK P&I Club, said the coming year has to see talk turned to action and has urged shipowners and firms to support initiatives that provide support to seafarers around their mental health.
“While there has been much talk shore-side on mental health awareness, which undoubtedly is positive and important, in 2020 the industry must transform dialogue into more practical solutions for crew. This should take various forms, including screening tools, training programmes and self-help techniques,” she said. “We are seeing an increase in the development of solutions measuring seafarer psychological/psychometrical screening. Companies are offering programmes to screen resilience, decision-making abilities and other such “soft skills” that are vital at sea. This should trigger the interest of shipowners, although the reliability and effectiveness of such programmes require further exploration.
Ms Bullard called on firms to provide greater support to the various initiatives that are set to continue and be rolled out in the year ahead.
“During 2020, seafarer charities will continue to play a vital role in all aspects of crew welfare, supporting seafarers in their times of need, as well as exploring prominent issues of modern day shipping, such as the impact of technology onboard,” she explained. “The larger shipowners and employers of crew would do well to support these charities, not only to align with their CSR objectives, but for genuine engagement to shape and improve the future work environment within the maritime sector.
“At UK P&I Club, The Crew Health Programme will continue to develop along with our members’ changing needs over the next year. New areas of crew recruitment are appearing all the time and the programme clinic network will also expand in response to these changes. New clinics in the Far East and Europe will be sourced to cater for the evolving seafarer population and our Crew Health team will continue to support our network of charity partners through sponsorship and knowledge sharing.”