Wednesday, February 17, 2021

New App Aims to Spot and Manage Depression and Anxiety Amongst Mariners

Covid Has Made a Bad Situation Much Worse
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – UK – WORLDWIDE – This week sees the release of a new app to encourage seafarers to open up about their feelings and thoughts to mitigate the risk of depression and suicide. The Covid situation has highlighted thanxiety suffered by many crew, amplifying concerns after the UK P&I Club revealed in 2017 that suicide was the top cause of seafarers' deaths, accounting for 15% of all fatalities at sea.

The Safebridge CrewCare app has been jointly developed by volunteer group Container Shipping Supporting Seafarers (CSSS), maritime EdTech company Safebridge, data analytics company Motion Ventures, and the Universities of Manchester and Plymouth. Prof. Capt. Ralph Becker-Heins, CEO, Safebridge, explained:

“Safebridge recognises seafarers as the global maritime industry’s beating heart, without whom international trade would grind to a halt. Whether it is with our #BeSafe campaign, our series of interviews giving seafarers a louder voice, or now with the CrewCare app, we continue to support our seafarers.

”This latest solution is the next logical step towards a future where every single seafarer is able to more closely interact with those ashore, taking greater care of his or her well-being.”

The app incorporates a professionally qualified questionnaire based on techniques medical practitioners use to make decisions when presented with a patient’s symptoms. An algorithm rates the multi-choice answers given to rate the mood of the seafarer from 1 (low risk) to 10. If a user scores 9 or 10, then that person is identified, and actions can be taken by the ship management company to mobilise appropriately qualified personnel in support of the individual. Philip Eastell, CSSS founder and the driving force behind the CrewCare initiative, said:

“Where concern exists there is now an opportunity for seafarers to get help. The app is a very low-key diagnostics tool set up to ensure that those seafarers struggling to cope receive the care they need. We are hoping that the shipping lines will recognise the importance of this application.”

Eastell believes that the quality and quantity of the data will also provide the industry with more substantive, meaningful statistics than the limited happiness-type indices developed by other organisations. The app combines features and functionalities derived from Motion Ventures and Safebridge platforms to offer a single central point for assessing, monitoring, and responding to seafarers' health and well-being needs.

Commenting on the combined expertise and synergy of the organisations involved in the development, Emmanolia Kolias, Global Sales Leader, Safebridge, said:

“Each organisation participating in this project collectively applied its knowledge, expertise, and capabilities to contribute to the CrewCare app's vision and success. As a result, CrewCare makes it possible to create a real-time connection between crew managers and their seafarers, offering the level of support that goes far beyond career development. We all know that Seafarers' access to support is critical, and this app allows crew managers to precisely achieve that and ensure that seafarers make it home safely.”

While the app facilitates a crew managers' ability to monitor the status of the seafarers' well-being, general health, and Covid-19 risks, it also gives them the power to take immediate action and offer direct support to those in need. It also features an integrated communications function and affords access to the 24h International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) helpline SeafarerHelp.

Roger Harris, CEO, ISWAN said his organisation welcomed the development and its many benefits, particularly during the current crew change crisis when many seafarers are suffering from increased anxiety and stress. Valentinos Steliou, Product Manager, Safebridge, added:

“The industry has been looking for a solution that caters to the well-being of all our seafarers for some time now. The CrewCare App enables forward-thinking companies to provide their seafarers with a smart tool designed not only to manage their seafarers' well-being but also to help them provide the requisite care. This app allows ship managers to take positive action and provide support where and when it is needed.”