26% of seafarers suffer from depression

26% of seafarers suffer from depression

More than a quarter of seafarers show signs of depression – and many won’t ask for help, according to a new study carried out by international maritime charity sailors’ Society and Yale University.

The study of more than 1,000 seafarers found that some 26% said they had felt “down, depressed or hopeless” on several days over the previous two weeks, revealed a public presentation of the report’s findings at the Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea conference held in London last week.

Isolation from families, length of contract and the quality and amount of food served on board were all found to be contributory factors to seafarers’ mental health.

Nearly half (45%) of seafarers who reported symptoms of depression said they had not asked anybody for help, while around one-third said they had turned to family and/or friends; only 21% said they had spoken to a colleague aboard ship. 

Seafarers spend months on end at sea, facing some of the toughest conditions of any workforce, said Sandra Welch, Deputy CEO of Sailors’ Society – which celebrated its 200th anniversary this month. 

“This report is a wake-up call to the industry about the huge impact this is having on seafarers’ mental health,” she said. 

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