Human Rights at Sea Advisory Board member Professor Neil Greenberg worked with Dr Samantha K Brooks to publish a review of seafarers' mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted seafarers' key role in the global supply chain. As the pandemic took hold in early 2020, a significant crew change crisis unfolded internationally due to border closures, rigid quarantine requirements and a faltering vaccination rollout. The measures implemented to restrain its transmission have transformed workplaces and challenged occupational health and safety in unprecedented ways.
The report details the challenges seafarers faced, such as denial of shore leave, concerns about finances and future employment; loneliness and isolation; fears of COVID-19 infection; limited access to essential supplies; and feeling unsupported by management and analyses the psychosocial or mental health interventions experienced.
Professor Neil Greenberg said: "We are very pleased that this scoping review of 14 papers concerning the mental health of workers within maritime organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic has been published. The results will allow maritime organisations to use the learning from the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare to better support the mental health of seafarers during any future prolonged crisis. We recommend that finding ways to ensure that workers feel valued by their organisation, enhancing work-related autonomy, and ensuring that communication with workers is accurate and consistent. These aims can be achieved by training supervisors at all levels and ensuring that effective peer support processes are implemented both aboard vessels and at the headquarters of seafaring organisations. Properly supporting workers' mental health will undoubtedly lead to improvements in productivity and decrease the chance of accidents or other poor outcomes."
This review goes some way to understanding how best to support seafarers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and any other crisis that may arise.
Human Rights at Sea believes that this must continue to be a collaborative effort in helping to identify anyone at risk from mental illness and how to respond appropriately to best support seafarers' wellbeing.
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