Under the global COVID-19 this year, crew change has been severely affected which has led to worldwide attention on the mental health of the crew attracts. Anxiety, social isolation, pressure of work and disturbed sleep, can negatively impact crews' mental health.
Xinde Marine News interviewed Charles Watkins, the founder of Mental Health Support Solutions.
He stressed that particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of psychological support and timely counseling for seafarers is vital.
During the interview, he also mentioned they managed a case where a crew member had suicidal tendencies. Mental Health Support Solutions offered lots of support and counselling over many weeks to support the crew member. The right support and guidance was offered which helped to lessen the anxiety and pressure, which in turn eased the situation and helped improve the seafarer's mental health and wellbeing.
When discussing how to support crews' physical and mental health during these challenging times, Charles said: "Mental hygiene, breathing techniques, sleeping hygiene, can help crew stay strong and keep positive. Also, they should try to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet. Stress is also reduced when they increase social interactions on board the vessel.
Stress is reduced when we feel a form a connection in a group. And what we've been seeing is that very often social media leads to more isolation than previously because onboard connectivity has improved. It is great for talking to family and friends. However Mental Health Support Solutions definitely recommends having small social events or at least an hour offline where everyone can meet in the canteen and talk about what's going on with them and play games. Group connection is very important for our mental hygiene as well. And then there are a bunch of other things that you can do to relieve stress actively when you have it. There is the very important aspect of how you treat yourself and how you treat others by taking care how you communicate and keeping your own emotions in check. Being able to transparently share your feelings even if you're afraid, or when you are angry is key, so being very transparent and allowing that conversation to start is vital. To have the ability to express everything that is going on and what you are feeling and having everyone else to do that too creates a very healthy environment of stress relief by sharing what's going on, fears and any types of worry.
We provide a Mental Health Helpline package, offering round the clock confidential and professional psychological support via our provided freephone number, also via email, text or phone, on board and ashore, as well as publications, poster campaigns, educational videos.
"Under a global pandemic, being together is important and we need to be communicating more and connecting more."
Charles is a Clinical Psychologist M.Sc.·Licensed Psychotherapist, born in 1985 in Osnabrück, Germany. Having graduated with a master's degree in clinical psychology and completing his clinical training at the world-renowned University Medical Center of Princeton, Charles continued to use his passion to inspire positive change and advance the field of psychology in areas new to the psychological approach. Charles has been researching the area of maritime stresses and psychological illnesses to develop preventive measures for the maritime industry. Charles is continuing to find helpful psychological solutions for real life problems on ships and on shore.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Xinde Marine News.
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