May 30, 2018 GENERALMaritime Safety News

Seafarer Mental Health.

The UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)
have jointly agreed the following guidelines to shipping companies on drawing up policies on mental health and mental illness.
Companies are recommended to adopt such policies;

if they already have policies in place, they are recommended to review
them in the light of these guidelines.


The aims of shipping companies’ policies on mental health and mental illness should include:

• To promote the health, safety and welfare of seafarers
• To foster a company culture that is conducive to improving
the mental health of seafarers
• To ensure awareness of the importance of good mental
health among company managers
• To provide support for staff who are identified as having
mental health problems, ensuring that they are treated with
sympathy and respect and in confidence
• To increase awareness among all staff of the potential signs
of mental health problems
• To provide training to staff in having conversations with
others about their mental health.

3.1 The policy should be in writing and should:

• Designate a director as having overall responsibility for the
policy, whilst indicating the commitment from the full
management board to the policy
• Indicate concern for the health, safety and welfare of
seafarers and others in the company
• Promulgate positive messages to staff indicating that the
company promotes the good mental health of all staff, thereby
fostering a supportive company culture
• Provide literature via noticeboards and/or company intranet
to promote awareness of the benefits of personal interaction and
communication to good mental health
• Provide details of persons within and external to the company
who are trained in listening to persons wishing to discuss their
state of mental health.

3.2 The policy should make clear that the company recognises
that mental health problems may be short-term, long-term or

It should not focus solely on remedial measures for
seafarers suffering mental health problems, but on improving the
mental health of all its seafarers.

3.3 The policy should promote to a workplace environment that is
conducive to good mental health, including management styles
that treat seafarers with respect and value their opinions and
eliminating harassment and bullying.

3.4 The policy should promote the organisation of social and
team-building events that are inclusive and open to all and
encourage all employees to contribute ideas for these. It should
also encourage volunteering and other out-of-work activities that
can contribute to improving mental health.

3.5 The policy should also make clear the company’s commitment
to overcoming and eliminating any culture of silence or stigma
that might exist over mental health. This could be done by
discussing the subject openly in individual and staff meetings.