Seafarer Happiness Index Shows Negative Impact of COVID-19

Seafarers Happiness Index

The Mission to Seafarers today published its latest Seafarer Happiness Index, which it said revealed the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the welfare of international seafarers and their families.

The Mission stated that according to the announcement, the seafarer community is in the midst of a mental health crisis. It said the report shows the continuing decline of happiness at sea, largely due to the inability of seafarers to sign off and return home. Heavy workloads, virus fears and a perceived lack of COVID-19 precautions on board vessels are exacerbating the decline in satisfaction. Without immediate action, there are significant risks for the mental and physical wellbeing of crew and a growing risk to safety.

The latest survey, undertaken in association with the Shipowners’ Club and the Wallem Group, examines the experiences of seafarers across the global maritime industry between April and June 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, seafarer happiness has dropped from 6.30 in Q1 2020 to 6.18 in Q2 2020.

Among the different categories of ships, cruise ships ranked relatively low on the Index, around 6.0.

The latest report shows that overall vessels are sailing with fewer crew, increased sickness onboard and a pressure to keep hygiene standards at almost hospital-like levels. The demands of meeting these standards while also maintaining social distancing are relentless and seafarers are struggling to adhere to new guidance, the Mission stated.

It went on to say that this level of workload has been relentless since the outbreak of COVID-19 and is clearly taking its toll. Seafarers have reported feeling unsupported and stressed, and without respite, which is impacting work standards as well as the welfare of seafarers. Combined with the challenge of accessing medical services, the risk of an increase in incidents of self-harm and in the number of accidents is very real as stress impacts work, compromising safety at all levels.

Andrew Wright, secretary general of The Mission to Seafarers, commented: “We are in the midst of a welfare crisis. While Q1 showed us how seafarers suffered as COVID-19 struck home and provided insight into the support that was needed, the Q2 report highlights the cost of inaction and the need for immediate solutions. It is paramount that we see progress with crew changeovers, onboard PPE and improved communication between shore and sea, to defuse this ticking time-bomb. Protecting seafarers is a priority and governments must now come together and work with industry before it is too late.”

The report also reaffirms the importance of communication to seafarers, according to the Mission. With many seafarers unable to leave their vessels or contact their family due to the crisis, online access is fundamental to their wellbeing.

According the Mission, the message is clear: crew changes are needed, and those who can make them happen must do so, now. Only once seafarers can return home to their families and those serving at sea feel safe can we avert the both the immediate and the long-term impact of a mental health crisis among our seafarers.

 

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