With “Seafarers well-being” as the theme of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Day of the Seafarer 2018, top ship management group OSM Maritime Group picked the occasion to launch a global campaign aimed at safeguarding and improving the mental health of its 11,000 crewmembers.
The year-long initiative, christened “How Healthy is Your Mind: An OSM Seafarers’ Guide to Positive Mental Health”, will be pushed out across the 500 plus vessels managed by the business, addressing an increasingly pressing, but often overlooked, industry issue.
“This is a global issue and should be a matter of utmost concern for our industry,” said OSM ceo Geir Sekkesaeter. “Being on-board vessels for long periods of time, separated from family and friends, is difficult enough, and if conditions aren’t optimal then seafarers can be acutely vulnerable to mental health challenges. That’s easy to understand, but can be difficult for the individuals concerned to talk about. As such there’s a tendency to ‘sweep these things under the carpet’ and that only exacerbates the problem.
Key messages and information will now be rolled out across multiple channels, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) the My OSM app, circulars, on-board posters in communal areas such as mess rooms, the OnBoard magazine, and digital learning tools. Masters will “own” the initiative on vessels, pushing it out to crew, discussing its impact in Shipboard Safety Meetings and encouraging reports of incidents and actions. Areas that will be highlighted include fatigue, being away from home, stress, bullying and sexual harassment, amongst others.
“Day of the Seafarer 2018 provides a platform to advocate for higher standards of welfare and enable shipping companies and others within the industry to show how they provide a good working environment for seafarers and thereby make a positive contribution to their wellbeing,” said IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim, in his annual message for the Day of the Seafarer.
InterManager, the international trade association for third party and in-house ship managers, also chimed in, with InterManager secretary-general Kuba Szymanski saying the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers must be given priority by ship managers.
InterManager added it was happy that focus is being placed on the wellbeing of seafarers, as good mental health can lead to fewer accidents and increased productivity.
Meanwhile on the ground at the Port of Singapore, an initiative was launched by the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) and supported by Seacare Co-operative and PSA Singapore which will give seafarers calling at PSA’s Pasir Panjang Terminal access to a free, on-demand shuttle service.
The shuttle service will ferry seafarers from bus stops at the berths to and from the Seacare Drop-In Centre For International Seafarers, a resting point that provides free WIFI and beverages, helping maximise shore time for visiting seafarers. The centre is a short walk to the terminal’s canteen and crew immigration.
“We hope to reduce transport waiting time for seamen, who otherwise have limited time on shore, due to shorter turnaround times in ports,” said SOS general secretary, Kam Soon Huat.
Information of the shuttle service will be disseminated on social media
platforms and onboard ships.