28 Mar
2018

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New report indicates a quarter of seafarers show signs of depression - Wellness at Sea conference 2018

28 Mar, 2018

A quarter of seafarers show signs of depression, says new report

More than a quarter of seafarers show signs of depression - and many won’t ask for help, according to a study of seafarers’ mental health presented at Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea conference on 16 March, London.

The study of more than 1,000 seafarers was carried out by international maritime charity Sailors’ Society and Yale University, with more than one in six of the respondents coming from the UK.

Some 26 per cent of seafarers said they had felt “down, depressed or hopeless” on several days over the previous two weeks.

The seafarers said the quality and amount of food on board can have a big impact on their mental health, alongside isolation from their families and length of their contracts.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of the seafarers who reported symptoms of depression said they had not asked anybody for help. Around one-third said they had turned to family and/or friends, but only 21 per cent said they had spoken to a colleague, despite spending months on a ship with them.

Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea conference brought maritime leaders together to discuss the importance of seafarer wellness, its impact on the industry and how to combat problems like depression.

Dan Thompson, 29, from London, who had to take time out from his job as a navigation officer when he became depressed, spoke at the conference to raise awareness of the problem. He said:

“The reason I became ill was primarily my job – the workload, the sleep deprivation and the pressures of the job.

“Having lived at sea I would anticipate the numbers of people suffering from depression to be even higher than those who admitted it in the survey.

“Our industry is generally more ‘macho’ than many others. The attitude is to just toughen up and get on with it. There is a fear of talking about it openly, of losing your job.”

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