BBC Looks at Seafarer Mental Health
The BBC has produced a film that looks at the pressures faced by people working at sea, expressed through the eyes of an Ethiopian seafarer.
In the storyline, Amaha Senu left his home in Ethiopia to become a merchant seafarer, attracted by the financial opportunities. Soon he began to regret his decision and considered taking his own life.
Suicide rates among seafarers have more than tripled since 2014 and are now the most common cause of death at sea, according to figures from the UK P&I Club. Crew deaths attributed to suicide have increased from 4.4 percent in 2014-2015 to 15.3 percent in 2015-2016.
Between 2001 and 2005, merchant seafarers scored the second highest level of suicides amongst all professions, after coal miners, according to research published by Swansea University in 2013. Today, the rate of suicide for international seafarers is triple that of shore workers, according to the IMO.
ISWAN offers immediate response to seafarer calls via its 24-hour multilingual helpline, SeafarerHelp, which has recently been made available on mobile messaging service WhatsApp.
A publication Managing Traumatic Stress – Guidance for Maritime Organisations is available online to provide top-level guidance to senior management to help improve the mental health of seafarers. It offers education and evidence-based approaches specifically designed for the maritime industry.
The guidance is authored by Professor Neil Greenberg, Managing Director of March on Stress and Professor of Defence Mental Health at King’s College London and published by The Nautical Institute in partnership with the charity Human Rights at Sea.