Crewmembers struggling with their sexual identity are talking more openly about the issue and the challenges they face within the maritime industry, a leading psychologist has revealed.
Charles Watkins, a clinical psychologist and Managing Director of Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS), said that his organisation – which provides 24/7 mental health support and guidance throughout the shipping sector – was receiving more calls from people willing to discuss their sexuality.
“We have had several calls from people talking about their struggles with identity and love,” he said. “We’ve been able to help seafarers with discrimination, sexism, harassment and humiliation.”
Mr Watkins added it took great courage for an LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual plus) person to share their sexuality with colleagues, especially when worried about any potential hostility or ridicule. His comments come during Pride Month, which takes place every June to celebrate the global LGBT+ community. People are encouraged to be tolerant and challenge homophobia, to learn about pride history and to continue fighting for equality for all.
“We at MHSS strongly believe that highlighting the beauty and individuality of underrepresented groups is more important than ever,” Mr Watkins said. “We feel moved to inspire the courage in people to be who they are.
“Equality goes way beyond just passing laws and respecting human rights. It’s the freedom to strive for tolerance, acceptance and the right to love in any way or form. Silence has not protected people in the past. Therefore, let’s be loud and open about these real struggles together.”