Although news teams might have moved on to other locations and different crises, for those Turks and Syrians who have been caught up in the recent earthquakes the situation continues to be critical. This is especially true for seafarers whose families live in the affected region.
Güven Kale, Chief Clinical Officer at Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS), has seen first hand the difficulties these seafarers are facing. “Many seafarers were unable to reach their families and loved ones for days after news of the earthquakes first broke and didn’t know whether their families had survived. It has been incredibly difficult for them to be onboard while their families and friends have been struggling to deal with the devastation.”
While many affected seafarers chose to return home as soon as was possible, for others financial need has kept them onboard despite their desire to be on site supporting their families. However, it’s not only the mariners who have been suffering, many maritime offices are manned by Turkish or Syrian employees and they have been similarly distressed.
“MHSS has been providing therapy sessions to sailors who have been affected by the earthquakes, free of charge and for as long as is needed. I am Turkish and we also have an Arabic speaking psychologist so we have been able to offer support in people’s own language.”
The company has been seeing a number of symptoms from the people they are helping, problems with sleeping, loss of appetite and constant worry. The MHSS team have been giving the support necessary to help these people avoid longer term conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Güven continues, “We try to raise awareness about potentially traumatic situations through psychoeducation so that those we are supporting are prepared for what they may face.”
“Sadly I think the need for our services will increase in the coming months as the facts become clearer and they, and their families, experience the reality of living in temporary shelters, no longer having access to education for their children and facing difficulties in accessing health services. Many seafarers will have no choice but to take the heart-breaking decision to leave their families and return to sea in order to earn the money they need to rebuild their lives,” she concludes.
Seafarers affected by the earthquakes can contact MHSS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for support and a listening ear.