Synergy Marine Group along with iCall, TISS launches helpline number for seafarers

Published: Jun 27, 2019, 21:57 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

The service is available 24x7, free of charge via phone, e-mail and a chat-based nULTA App

Representational Image
Representational Image

Synergy Marine Group, in collaboration with iCall and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), launched a helpline number for wellbeing and oriented concerns of seafarers.

iCALL, a nine-language service designed to reduce seafarer suicides and enhance the general mental health and wellness of all maritime personnel. The service is available 24x7, free of charge via phone, e-mail and a chat-based nULTA App.

Speaking on the occasion, Amitabh Kumar said "Mental health of seafarers is one area that has caught the attention of the industry which really believes in processes, safety and security, and mental health really compromises on safety and security. This is one area which needs a solution, a lot has already been done to identify the causes of the failing mental health of seafarers, especially in the context of Indian seafarers."

The key objectives of the launch were to sensitise on issues of distress, mental illness and gender; to build skills for responding to concerns of mental health empathetically in a gender-sensitive manner, and to equip participants with self-help coping mechanisms for addressing their own distress and offer support to others at sea.

Fact remains that seafarers from the south and south-east Asia constitute a majority of the seafaring workforce and come from a unique socio-cultural background. Seafarers are sure to suffer the debilitating impact of psychosocial issues given the social isolation when onboard ships. "Any shipping organisation needs to commit to a positive 'wellness at sea' culture. Seafarers too need to have an open culture onboard concerning psychological health. Mental health issues onboard ships are hazardous and need to be addressed with the same urgency and commitment that we address safety-related issues. Training should be made mandatory for senior shipboard staff to equip them with skills to address and promote psychological wellbeing of seafarers at sea to ensure that no seafarer takes the extreme step just for lack of help." said Capt. Rajesh Unni in his keynote address.

Dr Aparna Joshi, Project Director, iCALL, in her welcome address said, "Creating a helpline number and the network of support for seafarers is extremely necessary to address issues of mental health. It will further help in eliminating the stigma around mental health and encourage Seafarers to come forth and seek help. We are proud to be launching this one-of-its-kind psycho-social curriculum which aims at responding to wellbeing-oriented concerns among seafarers. Initiatives such as these will contribute significantly to sustainably building a better quality of life for those on board."

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