Navigating mental health in the maritime industry


To meet the growing awareness of the importance of protection mental health (MH) in the maritime industry, consultant clinical psychologist Dr Pennie Blackburn has launched Waypoint Maritime CiC, a community interest company with profits reinvested to further its social objectives.

“It’s fantastic that awareness of the mental health and the unique challenges of life at sea has accelerated over recent years, but it is crucial that approaches to protection, promotion and response are rooted in the best practice” says Dr Blackburn, who moved into the maritime sphere seven years ago after 25 years spent working in the public sector, charities, and international NGOs.

In those seven years, Dr Blackburn has written Good Mental Health guides for seafarers, Mentally Healthy Ships guidelines for shipping companies, trained over 2500 seafarers and shoreside staff, delivered more than 120 courses in Maritime Mental Health Awareness, suicide prevention and related topics, trained and supervised helpline officers for seafarers in emotional and psychosocial support skills.

As the proud daughter of a master mariner, Dr Blackburn places the wellbeing of seafarers at the heart of everything she does and advocates passionately for a greater understanding of the unique challenges of a life at sea. At Waypoint Maritime CiC, a unique not-for-profit for maritime mental health; she will collaborate with industry experts to amplify seafarers’ voices and build on evidence-based solutions specific to their needs. Those other experts will include, as appropriate, seafarers themselves, subject matter experts, policy makers, ship owners and managers, professional bodies in the maritime industry, P&I clubs, and welfare organisations.
Waypoint Maritime CiC will support companies with compliance for seafarer wellbeing with technical advice on drafting company mental health policy, implementing best practice to promote wellbeing, undertake hands-on project work including stress risk assessments to prevent mental ill health, training and guidelines for effective crew support following critical incidents on board and new approaches to seafarer assistance programmes to ensure accessible and timely response.

Evidence building will be a key tranche of Waypoint Maritime’s work through which innovative new MH programmes – including ones aimed at suicide prevention – will be developed, piloted and evaluated.

“The primary aim of Waypoint Maritime CiC, as a not-for-profit is to support the industry to implement safe and effective approaches to mental health and well-being through evidence-based understanding of the unique psychological and psychosocial challenges and risks a life at sea brings.” says Dr Blackburn.

For more information about Waypoint Maritime CiC, log on to, email Dr Blackburn at