New emotional support guidance for seafarers

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The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) has produced a self-help guide for seafarers’ mental health to complement its free, 24/7 helpline, SeafarerHelp.

Working away at sea with limited means of communication and little or no shore leave means that it can be difficult for seafarers to access the emotional support they might need.

Forming part of ISWAN’s Seafarers’ Health and Information Programme (SHIP) and overseen by Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr Pennie Blackburn, the new self-help guide is entitled Steps to Positive Mental Health and intended to be the first in a series of ‘Good Mental Health Guides for Seafarers’. It contains skills, exercises and coping strategies to help seafarers deal with their emotions when they are experiencing stress or feeling low, including examples of positive coping statements and guidance on using mindfulness to deal with stressful situations.

The guide also includes contact details for SeafarerHelp, ISWAN’s free and confidential helpline for seafarers in need. As well as dealing with issues such as unpaid wages and abandonment, the SeafarerHelp team is also there to listen and provide emotional support to any seafarer feeling depressed, lonely or unhappy, such as this.

Roger Harris, Executive director of ISWAN, said: “There is growing awareness of the importance of the mental wellbeing of seafarers. This new resource gives seafarers practical help in dealing with the everyday stresses of working at sea for long periods.”

ISWAN works with a range of bodies including other welfare organisations, ship owners, and unions in supporting seafarers and their families.

Steps to Positive Mental Health will be translated into Filipino, Hindi, Russian, Arabic and Spanish in due course.