Mental health training standards launched during Seafarers Awareness Week

A seafarer on deck of an offshore vessel. Credit: Getty Images

The Seafarers’ Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training Standard, a guide that offers standards for designing mental health and wellbeing training courses for seafarers, was launched today. Created by The Maritime Charities Group (MCG; a coalition of 10 maritime charities) and the UK’s Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), these guidelines are intended to address ongoing concerns with the varying quality of mental health awareness training.

Steven Goslin, quality assurance manager at Videotel, said, “Seafarers face unique pressures and stresses at sea that no other people in no other profession quite experience. We have therefore championed this new training standard and hope that it could become a blueprint for awareness training in our industry. This is another huge step forward in giving this important topic the attention it deserves in the maritime world.

“One in four people will develop a mental health problem during their lifetime, but the incident among seafarers is much higher. The COVID-19 crisis has made the situation for seafarers even worse, so now is exactly the right time to publish this guide,” noted Commander Graham Hockley, chairman of the MCG. Mental health and well-being is an ongoing crisis in the maritime industry, as a 2018 study conducted by Sailors’ Society and Yale University noted that 25% of seafarers showed signs of depression.

Although not mandatory, the guide is intended for prospective buyers of training courses as well as potential participants, and is hoped to enhance training on the subject. It features experts from the maritime and education sectors discussing course content, delivery, and necessary qualification requirements for course facilitators. Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping, encouraged crew signing up for courses on mental health and well-being to look for the MCG and MNTB logos to be assured that the course would be geared to address seafarer needs.

The guide can be found here.