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Health and safety

Employers urged to 'answer the difficult questions' in new Mental Health in Maritime survey

11 October 2021

After a gruelling year during a pandemic that has had a profound impact on seafarers, new research is being undertaken by Maritime UK to find out how well maritime employers support good mental health.

Maritime business leaders are being urged by the trade body to take part in its second Mental Health in Maritime Survey launched for World Mental Health Day 2021.

The new survey will analyse how employers support good mental health in the maritime sector and the findings will be published in February 2022.

As well as taking part in the survey, Maritime UK is urging more businesses to sign up to its Mental Health in Maritime Pledge, established earlier in 2021. Signed by over 70 businesses so far, the Pledge calls on senior executives to make clear their support for creating positive change within their respective organisations, and collectively, across the UK maritime sector.

The Pledge stems from the work carried out by Maritime UK's Mental Health in Maritime Network – launched as part of the Diversity in Maritime programme in May 2020. The Network provides members with a collaborative platform to share information and help each other achieve and develop mental health best practice. It also provides companies and individuals with relevant information about mental health resources, best practice guides and toolkits.

The Network launched the first Mental Health in Maritime Benchmark survey in October 2020 just as the Covid-19 pandemic was taking hold globally. That survey identified key areas where the programme needs to focus its efforts to drive positive change – for instance: only 24% of people surveyed said that their organisation produced, implemented, and communicated a mental health at work plan.

Chrissie Clarke, head of diversity and operations and secretary to the Maritime Skills Commission, said: 'Covid-19 has had a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing, especially at work. As we move into a post-Covid world, we must stand together and commit to improving the quality of mental health and wellbeing throughout the sector.

Chair of Mental Health in Maritime Network and director of H&S – resilience at Arcadis Stu Pollard said: 'As people come back into the workplaces, we need to remember that some have been at work and on vessels throughout the pandemic. As leaders, we must start to ask difficult questions.

'Have we done enough for our employees, have we helped encourage conversations and help reduce the stigma of mental health and illness? Have we engaged positively with people and provided information and support that is accessible to all? Well, it is time to stop wondering if and start acting to make it a reality. Let's see where we are as a sector and where we can improve by completing the survey which is based on the Thriving at Work report by Stephenson and Farmer.'

Maritime minister Robert Courts, who has also signed the Pledge, said: 'The last 18 months have been some of the most challenging our sector has ever faced and it's now more important than ever that we stop and check in on those around us.

'I'm extremely proud of the work Maritime UK has done to tackle this challenge head on through the Mental Health in Maritime Pledge and the launch of their survey and I look forward to continuing working with the sector to promote this further and champion better mental health.'