Thursday, October 8, 2020

As World Mental Health Day Approaches Seafarers Need the Right Training

Standard Set to Ensure Effective Assistance for Mariners
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – With the focus very much on mental health this week the Maritime Charities Group (MCG) and the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) are calling on shipping companies and training providers to make sure that any training they offer on mental health and wellbeing awareness meets the standards set out in their good practice guide.

Published in June this year, the Seafarers’ Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training Standard was written by experts from the maritime and education sectors in response to the growing mental health crisis amongst seafarers. The Standard has received widespread endorsement from academics, trainers and industry alike. Speaking in advance of World Mental Health Day this coming Saturday, Commander Graham Hockley LVO RN and Chair of the MCG, said:

“One in four people will develop a mental health problem during their lifetime, but the incidence amongst seafarers is much higher. Sadly the Covid-19 crisis has made the situation even worse. Now is the time for shipping companies to provide relevant, high quality mental health and wellbeing awareness training that meets the needs of their crew. And our Standard helps them to do just that.”

Aimed at prospective buyers of training courses as well as potential participants, the Standard sets a benchmark for training that aims to develop a keen awareness and appreciation of mental health and wellbeing amongst seafarers, as well as those with an interest in seafaring. It includes course content, delivery and the qualification requirements of course facilitators. Commander Hockley explained why the Standard is important thus:

“There are many reputable providers offering really good training courses but the majority are generic and really don’t address the specific issues facing seafarers. If you’re working at sea you need a course that’s much more targeted otherwise it just won’t be relevant. That’s why we’ve developed the Standard, setting out clearly what a good training course should cover.”

The Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) is a training course provider to over 40 constituent maritime welfare organisations and has already adopted the Standard for future mental health awareness training courses. MNWB Chief Executive Officer, Peter Tomlin MBE said:

“With the cancellation of instructor led courses as a result of Covid-19, we’ve concentrated our resources on the creation and provision of e-Learning courses. We’ll be launching a new Seafarer Mental Health Awareness course for Port Chaplains and ship welfare volunteers in November and used the Standard as a best practice guide.

“I recommend all training commissioners to check out this extremely useful benchmarking tool. The Standard will undoubtedly benefit course providers and students alike, particularly during these challenging times.”

With so many crews still stranded around the world, either waiting to join their ships or trapped aboard by the pandemic, never has the need for proper counselling been more urgent in the sector. The UK Chamber of Shipping played its part in assisting the Maritime Charities Group to ensure the Standard did what was needed and remained relevant specifically to seafarers. Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the Chamber observed:

“We were delighted to work with the MCG to make this Standard available but now is the time to remind those responsible for commissioning training that it’s there and they need to use it. In time for World Mental Health Day on Saturday, we’re calling on companies to make sure they provide mental health and wellbeing awareness training for their crew and that it meets the relevant standards. And only by looking for the MCG and MNTB logos can they be sure that the course will meet their specific needs and be delivered by someone who understands the environment they work in.”

The published Standard can be purchased online HERE for a nominal £10 fee.