The American P&I Club issued a report which focuses on mental wellness, as an important aspect of the health and wellbeing of the crew aboard a ship, reminding that mental breakdowns are often the cause of incidents at sea.
Recognizing the developing symptoms, or early warning signs, and taking action, can and will make a difference, the Club notes.
As explained, most common indications of mental illness include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, impulse control and addiction disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and the ‘common stress’. Some detectable manifestations are depicted herebelow:
These symptoms may cause difficulty with completing tasks and duties aboard ship and should be a sign to a ship’s master its officers and senior crew that a crewmember is in distress. Early intervention can help prevent an illness from worsening.
As noted, it is up to the Master’s discretion to determine if a crewmember needs to be monitored to ensure their own wellbeing and the safety of the ship and other crewmembers.
The Club claims that a positive and professional work environment is guaranteed to result in high employee morale and performance. Specifically:
- Ensuring proper rest for crewmembers is essential for warding off fatigue, which exacerbates or increases mental health risk in addition to general incidents aboard ship.
- Always consult the opinion of the doctor or medically qualified person if onboard, or a medical advice call-in service. Crewmembers who have expressed symptoms of anxiety, depression, or a more severe illness should be monitored and/or have their duties curtailed to a minimum until a medical professional has treated them.
- Alcohol is a natural depressant which can exacerbate and worsen bad states of mental health. Drinking alcohol may have a temporary positive effect on mood, but that is short lived after continued exposure.
- Better connectivity with the internet has its advantages and disadvantages, including contact with family and friends ashore. However, constant social media use in the general population has been shown to increase depression for individuals at risk for depression.
Explore more in the following report: