Wellness at Sea


The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the original author or contributor. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the UK P&I Club.

Mental health is an ongoing issue in all walks of life, but in our business we are additionally exposed through the claims we see. Although we have discussed this a couple of times on the blog, with Mental Health Awareness Week upon us we are raising the topic once again. This is a subject the Club is passionate about and we strive to reduce not only the claims associated with poor mental health but also the amount of seafarers suffering. 

Recently The UK Club office was visited by Johan Smith from the Sailors' Society who gave an amazing talk on the Wellness at Sea training programme. For those of you who aren't aware; Sailors' Society are a "charity supporting and caring for an often forgotten group of people". They are deemed to be "a personal lifeline for seafarers on board ships and when they step ashore in port". The work Sailors' Society do is therefore integral to seafarers.

Johan is also clearly passionate about the mental wellbeing of seafarers, using this passion to create and drive the Wellness at Sea programme. He believes that there is a neglect of the holistic, multidimensional and unique human side of seafaring to which we need to pay more attention. Humans are complicated beings and there is no one-size fits all cure to the issues we face. Fortunately, the Wellness at Sea course covers 5 core aspects of holistic wellness, so it is certain to help everyone in some way. 

The modules covered are:

  • Social wellness

  • Emotional wellness

  • Physical wellness

  • Intellectual wellness

  • Spiritual wellness

So what are the benefits of Wellness at Sea? Well, aside from happier more motivated staff, a study revealed that company medical costs fell by $3.27 for every dollar spent on the Wellness programme. It's the age old dilemma of pay now or pay later but surely the proactive approach is preferable to the reactive? The cost for one seafarer to take the e-learning version of the course is just $2 but further person to person crew seminar training, train-the-trainer and even in house training is also possible to arrange. 

It's time to shift the focus onto strong wellbeing training as well as focussing on the technical skills needed to be a seafarer. Everyone has down days and it's easy to imagine just how much this can impact your work.  Well, imagine having a day like that and being in charge of a ships engine, for example. Metal health is just as important as the physical and technical side of things and we need to feed into this. 

What was so great about Johan's talk was that he shifted the focus from negative to positive. Yes, mental health issues exist at sea however; this should not take away from what a rewarding career it is. People should not be put off by the rare cases or statistics (most of which are often taken completely out of context) Instead let's focus on the changes being made in the industry to assist those who need it. Seafarers are not alone, and we are here to help. 

If you would like more information on the Wellness at Sea Training Programme you can contact the Sailors' Society on here

Or why not ask Johan to come in and talk to you? It was certainly memorable in our office (especially when he came armed with his paints and art set!). Alternatively, you can contact our crew health department who will provide further information on the options available.

Staff Author