Maritime News

Survey reports that a quarter of seafarers feel depressed

29 March 2018

More than a quarter of seafarers covered in a recent survey showed signs of depression, with many not asking for help to tackle this. The study of the mental health of more than 1,000 seafarers was carried out by the international maritime charity Sailors’ Society and Yale University. 

Of those surveyed, 26 percent said they had felt “down, depressed or hopeless” on several days over the previous two weeks. Factors that affected their mental health included the quality and amount of food on board, isolation from their families and length of their contracts.

Approaching half of the seafarers who reported symptoms of depression (45 percent) said they had not asked anybody for help. While around one-third said they had turned to family and/or friends, only 21 percent said they had spoken to a colleague on board.

Sailors’ Society deputy chief executive officer Sandra Welch said: “Seafarers spend months on end at sea, facing some of the toughest conditions of any workforce – isolation, cramped living quarters, noise, heat, storms – sometimes they’re not even able to stomach the food onboard. This report is a wake-up call to the industry about the huge impact this is having on seafarers’ mental health.”

She said the charity was working with shipping companies to help them offer the best care to their employees.

The Sailors’ Society works with seafarers in 91 ports, and offers counselling and support to those struggling with depression. For more details of its services, go to:


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