MNWB responds to new report on mental health and wellbeing
A new report into seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing has been published by the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
The report comes alongside the launch of MCA’s new digital tool designed to support seafarers’ health and wellbeing. Called the Wellbeing at Sea Tool, the new website provides practical advice for seafarers and helps organisations monitor wellbeing and support their employees.
Its launch is supported by the findings of the research which was carried out to gather the views of chaplains, charities, unions and the maritime industry as a whole.
Despite ongoing work, many of those questioned said they still felt mental health issues were poorly understood not just by employers but among seafarers themselves. Many of those questioned said that there needed to be better reporting to understand and act upon the level of suicide rates at sea, but added there were difficulties knowing for certain what the cause of death was in some cases.
Responding to the report, Sharon Coveney, Deputy Chief Executive of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board which is the umbrella charity for UK Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, said:
“There’s no escaping the challenges involved at sea and the many sacrifices seafarers make to carry out their jobs. The long hours, the dangerous conditions and spending months on end away from their families undoubtedly impacts seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing.
“Unsurprisingly, this report reinforces what we already know – there’s still a stigma around mental health. Ensuring seafarers are given the right support and guidance is more important than ever. This new digital tool, whereby those working in the maritime sector can access practical advice, is a step in the right direction and will hopefully raise awareness. Of course, there’s more we can be doing to break down the barriers so seafarers feel they are able to talk openly about mental health. And that will take time.”
The Board recently announced, in collaboration with the Department for Transport, a £2m grant fund that supports seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing.