Calls for support services from seafarers who are away at sea increase over the Christmas period as crews struggle more with loneliness and isolation, says leading health and wellbeing platform One Care Solutions.
The platform offers 360 degrees of support to crews and their families and addresses the full spectrum of seafarer health and well-being with 24/7 direct access to medical expertise, as well as mental health support.
OneCare Solutions says it sees a higher volume of calls to its psychological teams through its partner Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS) during the Christmas period with a rise of around 5%.
Marinos Kokkinis, Managing Director at OneCare Solutions, said: “We tend to see a higher number of calls from seafarers during the Christmas period. They very much feel the strain of being away from their loved ones even more during Christmas time, and it is up to shipping companies to ensure they have services in place that can offer the level of support that is needed.
“We offer a 24/7 hotline which seafarers can call day or night to access trained psychological experts who maybe able to offer advice on getting through the Christmas period and coping mechanisms, or even just to have someone there to listen.”
OneCare Solutions has been able to offer help and support to more than 1,000 crew members this year through the MHSS helpline, psychoeducation, crisis management, training and projects. The most common factor that led to seafarers seeking help through the helpline was stress, closely followed by family matters.
One example Mr Kokkinis highlighted was a seafarer who appeared to be high-functioning onboard, but sought support from MHSS due to difficulties with sleeping, losing focus, panic attacks, anxiety and periods of feeling low for no reason.
He also reported regular arguments with his girlfriend and was worried for their relationship, but deeply missed her and their children. MHSS helped stabalise his symptoms and improve his ability to communicate with his partner with the help of external relationship counselling and psychoeducation.
Shipping companies can ensure they are looking out for the well-being of their seafarers during the Christmas period through a number of initiatives, explained Mr Kokkinis.
They can enhance their entertainment packages, offer more access to WIFI to enable better communication with their loved ones, boost morale among crews with a special Christmas or New Year dinner and encourage crew members to bond through activities onboard.