A series of webinars has been organised by Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) to help seafarers cope mentally and physically with the challenges of working at sea during ongoing pandemic risks, and potentially being caught up in global conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine invasion.
The series of seven 30-minute webinars, held on the last Wednesday of each month at 12.00 BST, will focus on a key issue impacting seafarers, ranging from cancer detection and musculoskeletal health to financial stressors and mental health. The sessions will allow seafarers and others to ask questions and engage with experts on these topics. The recordings will be made available on the SHS website to ensure that the information remains readily available.
The ongoing pandemic, geopolitical unrest and increasing operational and administrative burdens pose a challenge to seafarer health and wellbeing. Not only do these seafarers face uncertainty around access to crew change, healthcare and vaccinations, but extended contract lengths, operating in high-risk areas and the risk of abandonment can also impact mental and physical wellbeing. In many cases, there are also knock-on effects such as nutritional deficiencies, stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms, financial insecurity, poor time management, dissolution of interpersonal relationships, and more.
In response, Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) has organised the webinars with its strategic partners to give practical advice and increase awareness of available resources for seafarers and their loved ones. For example, seafarers may face a great deal of difficulty making and keeping doctor's appointments for health check-ups as their contract lengths and shore leave are often subject to restrictions and deferrals, so the first SHS webinar will educate seafarers about the signs and symptoms for early warnings for cancer and demonstrate how to check themselves.
Sandra Welch, CEO of SHS, said: 'Issues of this magnitude are difficult to resolve and often compound each other – something that has become rather obvious over the course of the pandemic, particularly for seafarer mental health. We know that asking for help and support is not easy, but we are happy to help either through our own financial assistance programmes or those of our partners.'
Captain Szymanski: 'Despite recognition of the immense importance of seafarers to the supply chain, their welfare and wellbeing is rarely prioritised. This will harm the industry in the long term, particularly with regard to recruitment and retention of skilled staff. In addition to strong industry initiatives to tackle ongoing issues, seafarers must be empowered with information to manage their own health and wellbeing and these webinars are a valuable tool Secretary-general of InterManager Captain Kuba Szymanski