Protection & Indemnity (P&I) insurers American Club and Eagle Ocean Marine are urging the industry to step up care of seafarers’ mental health. They have just released a video giving advice on key action points that can immediately make a difference.
“Already of major concern to those involved in the shipping industry, the condition of seafarers’ mental well-being has become more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Joe Hughes, Chairman & CEO Shipowners Claims Bureau Inc., Managers for the American Club. “Since the outbreak of the pandemic we, at the American Club and Eagle Ocean Marine, have attempted to bring the need for action to the attention of owners, managers and authorities alike.”
The video is presented by the American Club’s Managing Director in Hong Kong, Chris Hall.
“Even before the pandemic took hold, an ITF survey, in collaboration with Yale University, identified that 20% to 25% of seafarers were suffering from some form of mental ill-health. COVID delays in crew changes have been well documented,” says Hall. “Unexpected extensions to contracts and voyages have exacerbated the problem. This was the primary reason, the same survey concluded, for higher levels of anxiety and depression.”
In the video, Hall details five key actions to be taken. They start with simple recognition of the situation, without which nothing effective can be achieved, and go on to offer advice on prioritizing the provision of assistance to crew members through counseling; encouraging on-board social activity, communication and mutual understanding; widespread adoption of anti-virus best practice to engender a sense of control; and consultation with seafarers in preparing mental wellness policies and programs.
The American Club has a dedicated web page providing constantly up-dated advice to its members and those insured by its fixed-premium subsidiary Eagle Ocean Marine on issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access it HERE.