Marine Medical Solutions highlights critical link between physical and mental health for seafarers

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The vital connection between physical and mental health, and the importance of holistic care for seafarers, cannot be stressed enough according to Dr. Jens Tülsner (pictured), founder and CEO of Marine Medical Solutions (MMS), a key division of OneCare Solutions (OCS). Seafarer wellbeing is a focus for the maritime industry’s observance of Day of the Seafarer on 25 June.

“While many of us are willing to invest time and resources into looking after our physical wellbeing, we often neglect the crucial impact that our physical wellbeing has on our mental health, although the impact of one on the other is well known,” emphasised Dr. Tülsner.

Recent cases managed by MMS have highlighted this inseparable connection. In one instance, a seafarer experienced unexplained headaches, leg cramps, and hand pain. After consultation, it was revealed the seafarer’s unhappiness with specific tasks onboard was responsible. In another case, a seafarer exhibiting signs of depression was advised to take a short leave, leading to the discovery of an underlying thyroid condition through blood tests.

Scientific research also supports the profound link between physical activity and mental health. Regular physical exercise not only enhances physical fitness but also boosts mood and reduces the risk of depression and anxiety by stimulating the release of endorphins, which are natural stress and pain relievers in the brain.

Conversely, the relationship between physical and mental health can create a vicious cycle. Chronic pain or illness can lead to depression and anxiety, while stress and anxiety can worsen physical conditions such as gastrointestinal issues or cardiovascular disease. This underscores the need to address both physical and mental health in tandem, particularly for seafarers who often face unique challenges due to their demanding work environment.

Dr. Tülsner stresses the need for seafarers to adopt a holistic approach to health, prioritising prevention and proactive lifestyle choices that support both physical and mental wellness. This can be achieved through regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and stress management techniques such as meditation or yoga, alongside building a strong social support network. Recognising that self-care is not selfish but rather a fundamental pillar of overall wellbeing is essential for maintaining optimal health.

MMS’s collaboration with OCS, established earlier this year, brings comprehensive medical support services to the maritime industry. MMS provides a 24/7 telemedical helpline, biomedical preventative maintenance, medical formulary management, coordination of medical treatment ashore, and management of onboard medical facilities. Dr. Tülsner, with his extensive experience in the cruise industry, previously served as Medical Director of a clinic for Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine, and Vice-President of Medical and Public Health at Carnival Maritime.

“Addressing both physical and mental health is paramount for the well-being of our seafarers,” Dr. Tülsner concludes. “Our aim is to ensure that seafarers receive the holistic care they need to thrive, both on and off the vessel.”

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