Nautilus, the RMT union and the UK Chamber of Shipping have jointly agreed new guidelines to help shipping companies to develop policies for the mental wellbeing of their seafarers.
The advice come at a time of increasing awareness of the importance of wellbeing and growing concerns about evidence suggesting that the suicide rate among seafarers is one of the highest of all occupations.
One in six adults will be experiencing a mental health problem at any one time, according to the Office of National Statistics, and mental illness is estimated to cost UK businesses £30bn every year through lost production, recruitment and absence.
The shipping industry partners are aiming to increase awareness among management of the importance of good mental health in the maritime profession, and to support companies in fostering a culture that is conducive to improving the mental wellbeing of seafarers.
The Chamber and the unions recommend that shipping companies draw up, agree and adopt policies on mental health awareness that are in line with the guidelines. If companies already have a mental health policy in place, such a policy should be reviewed against the new guidelines.
The advice comprises several different sections:
- policy, which covers what should be included within company policy and how it should be promoted
- implementation, which advises on what companies can do to support seafarers who are experiencing mental health issues
- training, which gives an overview of how companies can train staff to recognise mental ill health in others, in order to better provide support
- assistance and treatment, which advises on how a company can intervene with an employee who is experiencing issues, and how medical assistance may be engaged
- monitoring, which provides guidance on how a company should update its internal mental health policy and monitor the wellbeing and needs of its workforce