ISWAN has received sponsorship from Ocean Technologies Group for two new counsellors to provide support to seafarers in India and the Philippines.
Since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, ISWAN’s 24-hour, international helpline SeafarerHelp has handled more than 2,400 cases involving over 25,000 seafarers needing help or support.
Earlier this year, the helpline was receiving more than triple its usual number of calls and message as seafarers around the world who were stranded on board or ashore, experiencing financial hardship or struggling with their mental health, sought help. ISWAN’s regional offices were also overwhelmed with cases either referred by SeafarerHelp or through seafarers contacting them directly. Extra shifts were added to the helpline and regional staff were regularly working over twelve-hour days to help seafarers with their repatriation, but ISWAN continues to receive cases every day from seafarers and their families in need.
To help ISWAN meet the increased demands on its service, particularly in response to the number of seafarers seeking support for their mental wellbeing, Ocean Technologies Group is sponsoring two new full-time counsellor positions in ISWAN’s regional teams in India and the Philippines for six months.
Ocean Technologies Group's Chief Executive Officer Manish Singh said: 'Whereas we see a slow increase in crew reliefs, an immediate mental health crisis continues amidst seafarers that will remain stranded on board for a while longer before they get home. This means an ongoing heightened risk of self-harm, injury or accidents while seafarers remain in a state of distress. We have partnered with ISWAN, to increase their dedicated seafarer helplines. We are adding qualified counsellors to ISWAN’s team in Philippines and India and continue to explore further ways in which we can offer more support to seafarers and to ISWAN in their mission. I personally urge fellow maritime stakeholders to join us in immediately multiplying the counselling capacity available to seafarers. Ocean Technologies Group also reminds seafarers and managers to make full use of the mental health management tools we have made available for seafarers to use free of charge.'
Roger Harris, ISWAN’s Executive Director, said: ‘We deeply appreciate the sponsorship by Ocean Technologies Group of these two vital posts. Many seafarers are mentally exhausted and are turning to SeafarerHelp for support and the sponsorship by Ocean Technologies Group will help us meet the increased demand on the service.’
Seafarers can contact ISWAN's SeafarerHelp for 24-hour assistance and support via the contact methods provided at www.seafarerhelp.org.