Nautilus has marked World Mental Health Day with a call for better initiatives to improve seafarer wellbeing.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'Recent reports from our maritime welfare agencies show seafarers are paying the price of the economic downturn, but the Union is committed to ensuring that all members work in an environment free from harassment and bullying, and a safe working environment.'
The Union's key industrial objectives, agreed by the Council for 2018, seek to ensure that all companies have equal opportunities policies, appropriate industry training, and that employers are reminded of their responsibilities to provide a healthy and safe working environment for their employees, Mr Dickinson added.
'In the face of our research on connectivity at sea for our crew communications campaign, we also continue to seek quality access to the internet for members at sea. We know that often simple changes can vastly enhance our members' health and wellbeing experiences where their home is the sea for many months on end,' he added.
The latest annual report from the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network reveals its SeafarerHelp Service casework rose 37% from 2016 – a reflection of the fact that seafarers are continuing to pay a high price for the economic problems facing the shipping industry. SeafarerHelp also runs the Nautilus 24/7 helpline, which in the nearly three years since it began has assisted 825 members.
The ISWAN report notes that the shipping industry is starting to recognise the problems caused by social isolation, stress and fatigue – but warns that seafarers still seem reluctant to openly talk about these issues or identify themselves for fear of risking their employment.
In September, a report published by the International Maritime Health journal said initiatives to improve the health of seafarers had been poorly coordinated and their effectiveness had not been properly measured.