ISWAN has launched a video for seafarers containing advice, guidance and information regarding how to manage their mental health aboard and on shore during the COVID-19 Pandemic, with frequently asked questions answered by Dr. Kate Thompson, a counselling psychologist.

Many superyacht crew and seafarers are currently unable to leave vessels for crew changes or unable to travel back to their home countries, and the video provides information on how those in this situation can cope in the current crisis. Now with the virus affecting the labour supply countries, seafarers are also, understandably, anxious about their family and loved ones back home.

“We are receiving a lot of calls on our SeafarerHelp helpline so we decided to produce this video to help allay some of the anxieties of seafarers onboard and ashore. We hope that the video will be shared widely around the world,” said Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN.

In the video, Dr. Kate Thompson addresses the challenging topic of how people who are confined to vessels under quarantine can stay safe and well at this difficult time. “[Crew and Seafarers] already have the ability to manage long periods when you cannot circulate freely because you are on board a vessel, and have experience in not seeing your family or close friends for months on end,” states Thompson, encouraging others to learn from this skill held by seafarers.

“Know how to manage boredom by making sure you stay connected with people around you, stay connected remotely, and have some activities you can enjoy on board,” Thompson continues. “Draw on these strengths and share them with others, and we can all manage the pressure and boredom of the coming weeks.”

Thompson identifies key resources for crew and seafarers, such as the various guides produced by ISWAN regarding managing stress and sleeping well at sea, and steps to positive mental health.

“Make sure you have enough activities to make the time you have in quarantine pass less heavily,” Thompson adds. “Balance your time between different areas, ensuring you have time for physical exercise, for contemplation or quiet activities, and time for connecting with others such as crew members in the same position as you who will  be able to understand you and empathise with you.”

Thompson reminds viewers that port visitors chaplains and welfare workers are also all still available, and although they cannot come on board quarantined vessels, they are only a phone call away. SeafarerHelp has details of local ship visitors and other resources.

“Monitor how much news you are accessing,” Thompson advises, to ensure you are not engulfed in the many conflicting stories emerging from the mass media. “ Be kind to yourself,” concludes Thompson, “these are unusual circumstances and will put pressure on everyone.”

In a conversation with SuperyachtNews, a representative from ISWAN informed us that it is important that companies are putting in place as much support as possible for their crew at this time. “We know that the pandemic has caused a great deal of uncertainty about when crew members may be able to return home and about future employment.

“It would be beneficial for crew to know their companies are understanding of these concerns, and for them to have information of organisations who may be able to offer support,” added the representative.

In addition to the video, details of the helpline for crew can be found in the images above.


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