MHSS seafarer survey highlights connectivity concerns as top priority during holiday season


Seafarers’ fears over connectivity issues over the holiday season have been revealed in a recent study carried out by Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS).

The survey has revealed that seafarers struggle with being separated from family and friends over the festive season. MHSS emphasises that improving connectivity onboard ships is not only crucial but also serves as a protective factor, particularly during the New Year break, enabling seafarers to stay connected with their loved ones.

Charles Watkins (pictured), CEO and Clinical Psychologist at MHSS, explained, “The universal desire to connect with family and loved ones during the festive season is shared by seafarers. While families come together to celebrate, seafarers eagerly anticipate being part of these moments, even if only virtually. Such connections hold immense value for them, helping alleviate feelings of loneliness and sadness that often accompany extended periods at sea.”

The survey findings highlight that connectivity is so vital to seafarers that inadequate communication with family and friends could lead them to reconsider their career choices. MHSS firmly believes prolonged and frequent contract extensions can significantly impact the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers, and believe it is imperative for ship owners and operators to address this issue.

As in previous years, there may be an increase in seafarers reaching out to office staff for assistance in returning home on time or expressing sadness about being unable to travel home. Mr. Watkins emphasised the challenges faced by office staff, who often feel a sense of responsibility and empathy for the seafarers’ conditions.

Mr. Watkins suggested that acts of kindness, such as offering special holiday meals, granting time off, organising holiday gatherings, and facilitating social events onboard, have been greatly appreciated by seafarers. These gestures can significantly boost morale and foster a sense of belonging during the festive season.

Furthermore, Mr. Watkins pointed out that the survey highlighted how onshore staff frequently receive calls about relationship issues with partners and family problems that impact mental health during the holiday season.

He emphasised that not everyone finds it easy to reunite with family members during this time, and these challenges contribute to the mental health concerns expressed by seafarers. Improving connectivity can help address these issues, creating a supportive environment both onboard and onshore, ensuring seafarers continue to find fulfilment and satisfaction in their career choices.