The UK P&I Club has unveiled a new scheme that will allow its members access to materials aimed to improve mental health. The organisation’s crew health team announced its collaboration with Andrew Johnson, a clinical hypnotherapist and coach, who will provide ‘mindfulness’ recordings to crew.
The concept of mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent years, as many see the benefits of the meditative practices it promotes. A form of mental training, with Buddhist roots, mindfulness encourages a daily practice of focusing on one’s thoughts and breathing.
In an article published by the UK’s National Health Service, Professor Mark Williams, a former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, outlines why many are turning to mindfulness in the modern age. "It's easy to stop noticing the world around us. It's also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living 'in our heads' – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour," he says.
Mindfulness is reported to improve anxiety, cope with stressful situations or help with obsessive-compulsive thoughts. A recent superyacht crew survey conducted by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistant Network (ISWAN) outlined that 37 per cent of respondents said that access to mental health care was an ‘occasional or regular challenge’ while working on board. When asked if they had ever suffered from work-related stress, 80 per cent of female respondents and 54 per cent of male respondents reported that they had experienced more than one episode of stress.
Sophia Bullard, crew health programme director remarked, “At UK P&I Club we have a strong commitment to improving crew health for marine workers, who operate in a unique and testing environment. These mindfulness recordings, by an experienced professional like Andrew Johnson, can provide tangible benefits to seafarers’ happiness and mental health and are a welcome addition to our ever-growing crew resources.”
There are many ongoing scientific studies exploring the positive effects of mindfulness and meditation, with reports that these techniques are an excellent way to improve physical health, as well as alleviate mental stress. The link between these two is illustrated by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, who argue that our physical health and mental wellbeing are intrinsically connected. “The link between physical health and mental health is a two-way street. Not only does physical health affect our mental state, but our mental state can affect our physical health. This mind-body connection is well evidenced but, as yet, not fully understood. [For example] chronic stress can harm our cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems, leaving us more exposed to certain diseases.”
The UK P&I Club’s focus on mindfulness illustrates the growing awareness of wellbeing in the maritime industry, and the importance of crew maintaining a healthy lifestyle while on board.
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