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Health and safety

Seafarer health and wellbeing webinars launched in response to global challenges

30 March 2022

A series of webinars has been organised by Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) to help seafarers cope mentally and physically with the challenges of working at sea during ongoing pandemic risks, and potentially being caught up in global conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine invasion.

The series of seven 30-minute webinars, held on the last Wednesday of each month at 12.00 BST, will focus on a key issue impacting seafarers, ranging from cancer detection and musculoskeletal health to financial stressors and mental health. The sessions will allow seafarers and others to ask questions and engage with experts on these topics. The recordings will be made available on the SHS website to ensure that the information remains readily available. 

The ongoing pandemic, geopolitical unrest and increasing operational and administrative burdens pose a challenge to seafarer health and wellbeing. Not only do these seafarers face uncertainty around access to crew change, healthcare and vaccinations, but extended contract lengths, operating in high-risk areas and the risk of abandonment can also impact mental and physical wellbeing. In many cases, there are also knock-on effects such as nutritional deficiencies, stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms, financial insecurity, poor time management, dissolution of interpersonal relationships, and more.

In response, Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) has organised the webinars with its strategic partners to give practical advice and increase awareness of available resources for seafarers and their loved ones. For example, seafarers may face a great deal of difficulty making and keeping doctor's appointments for health check-ups as their contract lengths and shore leave are often subject to restrictions and deferrals, so the first SHS webinar will educate seafarers about the signs and symptoms for early warnings for cancer and demonstrate how to check themselves.

Sandra Welch, CEO of SHS, said: 'Issues of this magnitude are difficult to resolve and often compound each other – something that has become rather obvious over the course of the pandemic, particularly for seafarer mental health. We know that asking for help and support is not easy, but we are happy to help either through our own financial assistance programmes or those of our partners.'

Captain Szymanski: 'Despite recognition of the immense importance of seafarers to the supply chain, their welfare and wellbeing is rarely prioritised. This will harm the industry in the long term, particularly with regard to recruitment and retention of skilled staff. In addition to strong industry initiatives to tackle ongoing issues, seafarers must be empowered with information to manage their own health and wellbeing and these webinars are a valuable tool Secretary-general of InterManager Captain Kuba Szymanski

SHS well being webinars schedule

The schedule for the webinar series:

Webinar 1: Cancer Awareness

Date: 30 March 2022
Time: 12:00 – 12:30 (BST)
Register
Presenters: 
Darren Couchman (community engagement manager, Robin Cancer Trust) 
Carol Elliot (programme delivery manager, SeaFit Programme)
Description:
Working at sea makes it difficult sometimes to make appointments for regular check-ups. Raising awareness about early detection and diagnosis of cancer is key to saving lives.

Webinar 2: Healthy Minds 

Date: 27 April 2022
Time: 12:00 – 12:30 (BST)
Register 
Presenters:
Joanne Spencer (account manager, Togetherall)
Ceri Summers (mental health practitioner, Seafit Programme and Fairwinds Cornwall)
Description: 
Information on the free, confidential mental health and well-being services via Togetherall. SHS also offers mental health support to fishers through the Seafit programme. 

Webinar 3: Advice for Peace of Mind 

Date: 25 May 2022
Time: 12:00 -12:30 (BST)
Register  
Presenters: 
Miles Cowley (manager, Seafarer Advice & Information Line [SAIL])
Geraldine Cassidy (senior advisor SAIL)
Description:
SHS aims to raise awareness regarding financial stressors and the support available to seafarers via SAIL which offers advice and information regarding debt, money issues, pensions, tax credits, and more.

Webinar 4: Managing and Combating Fatigue 

Date: 24 June 2022
Time: 12:00 – 12:30 (BST)
Register 
Presenters: 
Dr. Claire Pekan (director, Safe Marine)
David Watson (CHIRP)
David Patraiko (head of research and relationships, The Nautical Institute)
Description: 
Staff on ships and in ports are responsible for safety critical work, day and night. This impacts rest time available.

Webinar 5: Musculoskeletal Health 

Date: 28 September 2022
Time: 12:00 – 12:30 (BST)
Register 
Presenters:
Neil Duff (OPS North Team lead, Connect Health)
Description: 
Steps to improve musculoskeletal health for seafarers who sustain a musculoskeletal injury and may have difficulty in accessing appointments and medical professionals in time, leading to potentially longer rehabilitation times.

Webinar 6 Stoptober: Stop Smoking 

Date: 26 October 2022
Time: 12:00 – 12:30 (BST)
Register 
Description: 
SHS aims at highlighting a range of services and support that can help seafarers quit smoking.

Webinar 7: Movember – Men's Health 

Date: 30 November 2022
Time: 12:00 – 12:30 (BST)
Register 
Presenters:
Dr. Charlotte Mendes Da Costa (general practitioner)
Representative from Seafit Programme 
Description:
This webinar focuses on men's health


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