Most people will not have failed to notice that this week (14-20 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week – a fantastic initiative led by the Mental Health Foundation to educate and increase awareness of mental illness and to break down the stigma surrounding it and our attitudes towards those suffering. For some time now, mental health has been a hot topic. One can hardly open a magazine or listen to the radio these days without being exposed to the importance of mental health and wellness, and this Mental Health Awareness Week is no exception.
This and other initiatives have gone a long way over the last decade to breaking down the barriers and, dare I say it, shame surrounding mental illness. About time too. We are much more open to talking about it, we are more aware of the different types of mental illness and much more understanding of the importance of keeping mentally well. But there is still much to be done.
Let’s get real – one in three people will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Today’s world is a fast moving, ever changing and complex environment, with the demands of work, family and life seemingly more challenging than ever. This can take its toll on even the most resilient of individuals. We all need support sometimes.
I have experienced first hand the harsh reality and devastating impact clinical depression and anxiety can have on someone you love and care for and the pressure it puts on relationships – both within the workplace and at home.
That is way I am passionate about the work of Sailors’ Society.
Sailors’ Society chaplains and ship visitors provide emotional support to seafarers in need when they are isolated or distressed or suffering. Not only this, our Wellness at Sea programme is leading the way in changing attitudes towards improving crew health – bringing mental health and emotional wellness to the fore, and proving that it is no less important than physical health and safety. From humble beginnings at its launch in 2015, Wellness at Sea is now a truly global crew coaching programme with no less than 83 trainers trained to deliver the programme worldwide.
To reinforce the messages learned through the programme, we have also launched a Wellness at Sea app, which seafarers can download to track their health and wellness daily.
In March this year, we delivered our second Wellness at Sea Conference in London, which brought together industry and academic experts, sharing the latest findings and thinking regarding crew health and the causes behind common illnesses.
Shockingly, results from our recent research with Yale University revealed that more than a quarter of seafarers showed signs of depression, with one in 50 saying they felt depressed every day.
There is no quick fix or sticking plaster for mental health. Looking after our mental health should form part of everyone’s daily self care, and Sailors’ Society is making big strides to ensure that seafarers can take wellness into their own hands.
We could not continue our important work in developing and delivering our Wellness at Sea projects without the support of and funding from our corporate partners.
A big thank you to Rightship, Euronav, UKP&I Club, Britannia P&I Club, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, Inmarsat, Lloyds Register, Brightwell Payments, Future Care Inc. and Wescom Signal & Rescue.
To find out more about the Wellness at Sea programme please contact [email protected].