Maritime Economies

February 21, 2024
ESG Shipping Awards highlight best practices for seafarers’ mental health and well-being

The ESG Shipping Awards, an esteemed recognition platform for sustainable and responsible practices in the maritime industry, is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the Workshop on Mental Health and Well-being for Seafarers “It’s Ok Not To Be Ok!” by Learning Seaman, which took place on 13 February 2024 at the Grand Hyatt in Athens.

The event recognized the unique challenges faced by seafarers and aimed to break the silence surrounding mental health in the maritime industry. “We must bring the conversation about seafarers’ mental health into the mainstream, encouraging open and destigmatized discussions. Seafarers should feel empowered, not ashamed!” Mr. Yofis Florentin, CEO of Learning Seaman emphasized in his opening remarks. “Seafarers are the most precious asset on the vessels and our efforts on political and  business level should be as clear as possible”. Mr. Manolis Koutoulakis, Secretary General of Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, stressed at the beginning of the workshop.

Leonidas Dimitriadis – Evgenidis, president of Eugenides Foundation and IMO Ambassador in Greece emphasized the unique challenges of seafarers “Isolation and loneliness, fatigue, and sleep deprivation, physical health risk, mental health straggles cultural language barriers, so many aspects to be tackled
and addressed in an ever-changing world”. Esteemed speakers from academia and industry shared their expertise, experiences, and best practices, shedding light on the often-overlooked mental health needs of seafarers.

“It all starts with awareness. I think it’s important to take the stigma away from mental health. Once you are aware then acceptance will come.” said Dr. Deepti Mankad, trainer and consultant at MINDSPEAK. “Being proactive to build a robust system to address mental health and wellbeing concerns is an investment. Mentally healthy seafarers will always bring in safer operations and reduce incidents.”

Dr. Maria Carreraresearch associate of World Maritime University, emphasized the need for collaboration: “Seafarers expect action more than words and intentions concerning well-being and mental health. The whole industry must work collaboratively to integrate human factors and social welfare into industry practices and regulations for the long-term sustainability of the shipping industry.”

Participants engaged in discussions covering a broad range of topics, including understanding the psychological impact of prolonged isolation, recognizing signs of mental health issues, promoting lifestyle medicine, implementing effective support systems, and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

The workshop facilitated meaningful conversations, allowing participants to share their experiences and learn from one another. Mr. Panos Zachariadis, Technical Director of   Atlantic bulk carriers, referred to his own experience when he was sailing at sea in the early eighties, describing a prevalent feeling of isolation, noting that today the issue is a lot worse due to the availability of internet keeping crews in their cabins after their shift.

Experts in the shipping industry have also voiced their support for recognizing and addressing seafarers’ mental health challenges: “We need to embrace new technologies and find innovative tools if we are to successfully address these challenges” said Mr. Christos Kechris, HSQE of Maran Gas Maritime Inc.

Cpt Anna Maria Papakosmopoulou, an ex-seafarer, from Maran Gas Maritime Inc. shared her thoughts on the workshop: “I have personally witnessed the struggles that seafarers can have on mental health and I always insist that we must listen to them. Glad to see all those in-field experts recognizing the significance of mental health. The passion of the people putting their expertise together is remarkable.”

Cpt Nikolaos Polymeris, from Danaos Shipping Co. recognized the importance of inclusivity and diversity in supporting seafarer’s mental health: “we need to create an inclusive and diverse environment on board to ensure happy and committed crew to keep the industry safe”.

During the event experts also highlighted the relationship between technology and seafarers’ mental health: “Automation, digitalization, and sophisticated onboard navigation systems can significantly reduce the workload, however technostress from feeling overwhelmed by technology demands can lead to burnout and depression among seafarers, compromising their well-being and overall job performance.” said Dr. Aspasia Pastra, Assistant professor of World Maritime Academy.

Overall event provided a supportive platform for open dialogue, knowledge-sharing, and the development of actionable strategies to support seafarers’ mental health.

ESG Shipping Awards remains committed to supporting seafarers’ mental health and well-being, and this workshop is just one of the many initiatives they undertake to create a positive and inclusive maritime industry.

Maritime Economies

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