Today is World Mental Health Day. Seafarers spend long periods away from their support networks back home, so when a seafarer is feeling low or experiencing worries, it can be isolating if there is no-one to talk to on board. ISWAN's SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The SeafarerHelp team is here to listen to any seafarer feeling depressed, lonely or unhappy.
An Indian seafarer was feeling very stressed and contacted SeafarerHelp via Live Chat. He was unhappy that he wasn’t making progress in his job as a 4th Engineer while his peers were being promoted to better positions. He explained that he earnt decent wages but was unable to spend them on himself as his family were taking all the money in preparation for his younger sister’s wedding.
The seafarer wanted to get married but couldn’t seem to hold on to a steady relationship. He was also worried about losing his hair. Although he had visited a famous doctor in India for hair loss treatment, it was difficult to follow the treatment while he was away at sea for long periods at a time. He was wary of confiding in the other crew members on his ship as he believed that they would make an issue out of his worries and be unsympathetic.
A SeafarerHelp officer chatted with the seafarer at length, offering him emotional support and suggesting he spoke to a counsellor who could help him deal with his emotions. However, the seafarer was not keen on the idea. As an alternative, the SeafarerHelp officer suggested that he speak to ISWAN’s Regional Representative based in India, Chirag Bahri, who as a former seafarer understood how such issues could build up and become a real problem when at sea.
The seafarer agreed and the SeafarerHelp officer referred his case to Chirag. Chirag contacted the seafarer via WhatsApp and had a long candid chat with him. He put the seafarer at ease as he identified with the issues that the seafarer was facing, having experienced life at sea himself. Over the next few days, Chirag encouraged the seafarer to talk about the things that were worrying him and suggested lifestyle changes such as exercising, healthy eating habits, giving up smoking and making time to socialise with the other crew members.
Chirag kept in touch with the seafarer to see how he was doing. The seafarer had taken Chirag’s suggestions on board and said he was feeling better.
If you are a seafarer or family member of a seafarer and need someone to talk to, you can speak to a member of the SeafarerHelp team confidentially – all our contact details can be found at seafarerhelp.org. Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need our help or support.