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Maritime Mental Health, Wealth and Happiness

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With KVH Videotel’s free training resource on for mental health and wellbeing, you can learn all about how to look after yourself at sea. We look at the video, to explain how it can help – and also remind you of an important way of making sure the shipping industry knows how you feel.

IT CAN BE TOUGH

Living and working onboard a ship is not for everyone, and it can lead to serious implications on the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers. There are constant challenges, such as a need to always be alert, and to be focused, while always doing your best.

This can take its toll, especially when all too often crews only see the ship and the airport. How then, can we make life at sea enjoyable? It is not enough to subject mariners to merely bearable conditions.

Seafarers need to thrive and flourish, and it can be a difficult challenge, but many companies and organisations are working hard to do just that. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that seafarers are tied to an environment where the boundaries between living and working can be blurred. There can be too few opportunities to relieve everyday pressures.

This makes it even more important to pay attention to health, happiness and the whole experience of living and working at sea. So, what is wellness for seafarers? It is a sense of feeling healthy and well, happy, positive and with good meaningful relations. Achievements and meeting goals – for life and professional.

FINDING POSITIVES

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Too much work, insufficient sleep, and day to day stresses can mean that seeing positives is a challenge in itself. It may be difficult, but the message from the KVH Videotel film is that seafarers must think about when they are happy and understanding what the things are that make them feel that way.

By noticing the good – by perhaps being able to see and appreciate the nature of life at sea, or the interactions, activities or conversations that are onboard. This is all part of building a picture of the good that comes with being at sea.

There are other things which can and should be done. Rest is vitally important, and seafarers need to make time to try and do things which they enjoy. Reading, watching movies, listening to music or singing karaoke, playing games either with others or on consoles, these all help.

So too does physical exercise. This is massively important when it comes to relieving stress, there is a feeling of vibrancy when we take care of our physical wellbeing. Exercise produces chemicals which helps the brain thrive, and so too when you eat well.

GOOD TO TALK

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For many seafarers maintaining contact with home is essential for their wellbeing. Being able to go ashore is good but contact with home is perhaps even more important today.

Being able to open to those at home, sharing problems or concerns is key. So, it has to be recognised that communication with family is so important for mental health. Internet access calls and social media can help and are wanted and needed by crews.

However, these can bring pressure too. Real time crises can enter their seagoing life. Things which happen in real time can leave seafarers feeling helpless – so we need to help seafarers and families.

It is vital therefore that seafarers and families are both able to manage expectations. Being on the same page and talking things through before the trip can help so much, and those back at home need to respect and appreciate the fact that seafarers may feel stressed or helpless if they are faced with problems about life back at home.

WHAT NOW?

One of the key messages to seafarers is that they should try and break away from negativity. Doing enjoyable activities, building your sense of achievement and purpose, and getting quality rest, food and exercise will all help build a solid foundation for wellbeing.

It is important to remember that everyone onboard has a responsibility to everyone else. It is important to recognise the signs of stress and anxiety in yourself and others. Spotting the typical signs, people slowing down, getting irritable, or disengaging. Seeing the changes is vital, and then being able to rally around and provide support or direct those who may be suffering to the right help and support.

We all want to feel satisfied in our lives, and it is in our power to achieve this. To get started, remember

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1. Do more of what makes you happy

2. Keep learning new skills

3. Connect with people

4. Give to others

5. Be physically active

Whatever problems you face, it will have a solution. Be positive. You can learn all about seafarer mental health and wellness at www.videotel.com/seafarerwellbeing