New study says a quarter of seafarers suffer from depression

29 March 2018 (Last Updated March 29th, 2018 14:09)

A new study conducted by international maritime charity Sailors’ Society and the UK’s Yale University has revealed that more than a quarter of seafarers show signs of depression, while many are reluctant to ask for help.

New study says a quarter of seafarers suffer from depression
Master Mariner Dan Thompson (left) with Sailors’ Society CEO Stuart Rivers at the Wellness at Sea Conference in London, UK. Credit: Sailors’ Society.

A new study conducted by international maritime charity Sailors’ Society and the UK’s Yale University has revealed that more than a quarter of seafarers show signs of depression, while many are reluctant to ask for help.

The study focused on the mental health of seafarers and found that around 26% of the respondents felt ‘down, depressed or hopeless’ on several days over the previous two weeks.

According to the seafarers, the quality and amount of food on-board coupled with isolation from families and the span of their contracts can have a huge impact on their mental health.

The study also found that 45% of the seafarers who reported symptoms of depression said they had not approached anybody for help.

Nearly one-third of the respondents said they turned to their family and/or friends, and only 21% had spoken to a colleague, despite spending months on a ship with them.

The study included more than 1,000 seafarers. More than one in six of the respondents are from the UK.

“This report is a wake-up call to the industry about the huge impact this is having on seafarers’ mental health.”

Sailors’ Society deputy CEO Sandra Welch said: “Seafarers spend months on end at sea, facing some of the toughest conditions of any workforce – isolation, cramped living quarters, noise, heat, storms – sometimes they’re not even able to stomach the food on-board.

“This report is a wake-up call to the industry about the huge impact this is having on seafarers’ mental health.

“We’re working with shipping companies to help them offer the best care to their employees, who are the lifeblood of the industry and our global economy.”

Sailors’ Society currently works with seafarers in 91 ports worldwide to provide counselling and support to those struggling with depression.