Innovative ‘Ship Connect’ takes helpline support to another level
Sailors’ Society, one of the largest seafarer welfare charities in the world, is providing mental health support to more than 12,000 seafarers via its new ‘Ship Connect’ helpline service.
The unique service, which is part of the charity’s pioneering Wellness at Sea programme, runs alongside its existing seafarer helplines. Instead of waiting for crew to call a chaplain for help, Sailors’ Society chaplains agree with shipping companies to make regular contact with their ships, getting to know the seafarers on board and identifying any welfare issues early on.
Sara Baade, Sailors’ Society’s CEO, said: “We’ve had more than 130 calls to our helplines every month since the coronavirus crisis began, but in the macho maritime industry asking for help doesn’t often come naturally.
“Seafarers can be very distressed – and in some cases suicidal – by the time they call a helpline. Sadly, we have been made aware of cases where some crew haven’t reached out, with tragic consequences.
“With Ship Connect, our chaplains become a friend to seafarers through regular contact. That way, we can address any challenges they’re facing before they spiral out of control, and, if they are struggling, they are more likely to reach out to someone they know and trust.”
Seaspan, Dorian LPG and Fleet Management Service are among the companies who have signed up to this new service since it launched.
Captain Manoj Gandhi, Seaspan’s Director of Fleet Personnel said: “For Seaspan, the health and safety of our seafarers are of utmost priority – and now, more than ever, the mental wellbeing of our seafarers is top of mind. Adopting Sailors’ Society’s Ship Connect service was an easy decision. The service integrates perfectly with Seaspan’s drive to provide its seafarers with all-encompassing and timely mental health assistance during times of need. Sailors’ Society’s Ship Connect is applauded amongst our seafarers and has made meaningful impacts on their mental wellbeing.”
Ship Connect also seeks to build a relationship with the rest of the crew through confidential group and one-to-one chats, sharing advice on how to deal with common mental health problems. The team keep crew updated on the latest news, particularly on any positive developments relating to Covid-19.
Capt Randhir S. Mahadik, Head of Fleet Care, Fleet Management Limited said: “We’ve been working with Sailors’ Society for several years now to support our crews’ welfare and are pleased to be able to offer this additional service, giving our employees the chance to raise any worries or concerns in private with a trained counsellor or psychiatrist.”
The Ship Connect team works around the clock, ensuring continuity of service as ships move across time zones.
For companies wanting to further support their crews, Sailors’ Society has a multitude of crew welfare solutions available under Wellness at Sea, including a new, free 27-week Wellness at Sea Awareness Campaign, and can develop bespoke packages to fit individual needs and budget.