The Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) has renewed its contract with online mental health service Big White Wall for another year, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement is linked to the International Day of the Seafarer, which this year focuses on seafarers as key workers, essential to shipping and essential to the world.
SHS has been funding Big White Wall's free, anonymous seafarer service since 2016, but the support offered is particularly relevant to maritime professionals now.
'It's a tough job at the best of times,' said the Society's chief executive officer Sandra Welch, 'but now, with so many seafarers working well beyond the normal contract period, the strain is beginning to show.'
There have been several reported suicides and suicide attempts in recent weeks onboard ships stranded offshore or in port, and suicide is now the foremost cause of death amongst seafarers.
Seafarers are a resilient bunch, Ms Welch acknowledged, and some may think mental health support isn't for them. 'But we're living in unprecedented times, and that means we need to do things very differently. No-one needs to know – it's all entirely anonymous and confidential. We don't know who's using the service and that's how it should be.'
Time is of the essence, she added. 'We really need to get the word out, now more than ever. So, tell your colleagues, tell your crew, tell your mates. Help is available – act now, before it's too late.'
- Big White Wall is available online 24/7 and is free to all seafarers and their families. Users have access to trained counsellors, self-help materials, a support network and one-to-one therapy. To access the service, go to the Seafarers Hospital Society website.