The issue: building and maintaining wellbeing and resilience
As we see increasing concerns for seafarer wellbeing, organisations such as the UK P&I Club are focusing heavily on the ways in which we can not only build, but also maintain, crew wellbeing and resilience. For the best chance of success, such programmes should be imbedded in a company’s culture and used consistently.
What is resilience and why does it matter?
Resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks or adversity. Increasingly, we are seeing this skill as an important component of a crew member’s ability to participate successfully in a voyage. The ability to remain resilient is increasingly tough with many seafarers stuck in scenarios where they are out of contract and cannot return home due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The UK P&I Club highlights research from experts that indicates being able to recover from a traumatic event relies on an individual’s perception of the event. Resilience involves adapting well during incredibly stressful (??) events.
Characteristics of resilient crews:
- Positive, caring and supportive relationships.
- The capacity to make realistic plans and realise them.
- Effective communication skills andproblem-solvingcoping mechanisms.
- Positive emotional experiences, including laughter.
- Positive memories and social support.
According to the UK P&I Club, the lack of social support is one of the strongest predictors of post-traumatic stress after being exposed to trauma. This is where training and support for resilience are so important. It is not enough to have a crew trained to perform their roles effectively. We must also train our people to manage the emotional impact of their work, support one another and develop a positive social culture so they are well-placed to succeed under difficult circumstances.
Solution one: Wellness at sea
In recent years, the UK P&I Club Crew Health team has supported the Sailor’s Society Wellness at Sea programme, which aims to improve seafarers’ onboard wellbeing and addressing wellness holistically, through five areas, including: social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual. It’s available for officers and cadets.
According to Johan Smith, Sailors’ Society’s manager of the programme, “Seafarers who undertake Wellness at Sea coaching will be equipped to better meet their social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual needs, thereby helping to prevent and minimise poor health or incidents at sea. By focusing on people rather than problems, we seek to support the centre point around which our industry revolves.”
Solution two: Innovative Maritime Emotional Intelligence Centre (IMEQ)
“ The IMEQ is a research centre with offices in Cyprus, Limassol and Athens. It was founded to support mental health and wellness at sea. The centre engages specialist social psychologists and psychiatrists to support pre-employment mental health assessment, well being training for seafarers and ashore personnel, and consultations on mental health issues.”
Alexandra S. Kaloulis, Managing Director of IMEQ says, “Our main mission is to provide our expertise on mental health issues and promote wellness at sea.”
More than just a psychological service, the team assesses their findings to develop training for maritime workers, which enables them to develop strategies for preventing onboard incidents, reduce costs and manage risks.
Solution three: Marlins’ resilience programme
Given the fact that resilience is focused on bouncing back from stressful situations, Marlins has designed a comprehensive resilience training programme to provide seafarers with the techniques needed to deal with challenges at sea.
According to Sophia Bullard, Crew Health programme director at the UK P&I Club, “The Marlins elearning courses on Resilience, Fatigue Management and Diversity training for seafarers provide an excellent tool to create inward thinking and open discussion on these key topics.”
The resilience programme includes 10 modules that have been created to enhance workplace wellbeing and business performance through improving personal and team resilience. Each course explores the crew’s capacity to deal with challenges that occur both in and outside of work.
The resilience programme modules are:
What is Resilience?
- Take Decisive Action
- Keep Things in Perspective
- Change Is Part of Living
- Take Care of Yourself
- Dealing with a Crisis
- Maintaining a Hopeful Outlook
- Making Connections
- Positive Communications
The elearning content can be complemented with reflective learning sessions. Marlins can supply training guidance and materials for senior crew members to help structure reflective learning group discussions on board.
Why investing in resilience works
Training and education take time and money but investing in or workers is an essential part of achieving safe, successful voyages. When your people are equipped to communicate effectively, manage their mental health, and have strong support solutions, you are likely to get the best out of those workers.
Happy, healthy, resilient workers are better placed to avoid incidents and accidents, which in turn benefits your business.
Explore more of the UK P&I Club’s mental health resources here:-