Australian services that can help
It is important that welfare resources are made available to seafarers as they are more likely to be affected by mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Use the following services to find the help you need:
- SeafarerHelp - provides an international helpline service from the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).
- Hunterlink - provides counselling services for seafarers in every Australian port - if you are anxious, lonely or troubled in any way, or even if you just want to speak to someone away from the ship, contact Hunterlink.
- Beyond Blue provides counselling services and a booklet for Masters and other ship’s officers with basic information about depression, so seafarers who are depressed may be identified and helped.
- Black Dog Institute – offers support and information for the treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar.
- R U OK? – offers a list of crisis intervention services.
- Lifeline – an Australian charity that provides 24-hour crisis support and suicide-prevention services.
- MoodGYM – offers online cognitive behavioural therapy for depression sufferers, available in a number of languages.
- Wellness at sea - offers videos, posters and podcasts to help care for the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers
- AMSA - offers several resources:
- Maritime Safety Awareness Bulletin on managing mental health at sea
- Information for international crew
International resources that can help
These international organisations also provide useful guidance:
- International Chamber of Shipping - offers guidance to help stop shipboard harassment and bullying.
- International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network - offers a guide to mentally healthy ships.
Fatigue guidelines – managing and reducing the risk of fatigue at sea
The fatigue guidelines provide information on the causes and consequences of fatigue, and the risks it poses to the safety and health of seafarers, operational safety, security and protection of the marine environment. These guidelines assist all stakeholders to better understand their roles and responsibilities in managing the risk of fatigue.
Mental health at sea
Seafarers are subject to 24-hour operations, often spending long times at sea separated from family and friends. Physical health issues are governed by international standards that support seafarers, but mental health issues are not, and may go unnoticed.
Shipboard factors that may influence mental health problems include:
- increasing workloads and working hours
- being away from home and family
- harassment and bullying
- drug and alcohol abuse
- lack of shore leave
- lack of social cohesion onboard
- limited communication (for example no internet access) with family and friends.
Email ASWCsecretariat@amsa.gov.au to suggest other resources we can provide to improve seafarer welfare.