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Charities urge shipping companies to adopt best practice standard for mental health awareness training

best practice standard for mental health awareness training

In the UK the Maritime Charities Group (MCG) and the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) have called on shipping companies and training providers to make sure that any training they offer on mental health and wellbeing awareness meets the standards set out in their good practice guide.

Published in June this year, A Seafarers’ Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training Standard was written by experts from the maritime and education sectors in response to the growing mental health crisis amongst seafarers. The Standard has received widespread endorsement from academics, trainers and industry alike.

Speaking in advance of World Mental Health Day on 10 October Commander Graham Hockley, Chair of the MCG, said: ‘One in four people will develop a mental health problem during their lifetime, but the incidence amongst seafarers is much higher. Sadly the Covid-19 crisis has made the situation even worse. Now is the time for shipping companies to provide relevant, high quality mental health and wellbeing awareness training that meets the needs of their crew. And our Standard helps them to do just that.’

Aimed at prospective buyers of training courses as well as potential participants, the Standard sets a benchmark for training that aims to develop a keen awareness and appreciation of mental health and wellbeing amongst seafarers, as well as those with an interest in seafaring. It includes course content, delivery and the qualification requirements of course facilitators.

Commander Hockley explained why the Standard is important: ‘There are many reputable providers offering really good training courses but the majority are generic and really don’t address the specific issues facing seafarers. If you’re working at sea you need a course that’s much more targeted otherwise it just won’t be relevant. That’s why we’ve developed the Standard, setting out clearly what a good training course should cover.

The Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) is a training course provider to over 40 constituent maritime welfare organisations and has already adopted the Standard for future mental health awareness training courses.

MNWB Chief Executive Officer, Peter Tomlin said: ‘With the cancellation of instructor led courses as a result of COVID-19, we’ve concentrated our resources on the creation and provision of eLearning courses. We’ll be launching a new Seafarer Mental Health Awareness course for Port Chaplains and ship welfare volunteers in November and used the Standard as a best practice guide.’

He added: ‘I recommend all training commissioners to check out this extremely useful benchmarking tool. The Standard will undoubtedly benefit course providers and students alike, particularly during these challenging times.’

Shipping industry representative, Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping added: ‘We were delighted to work with the MCG to make this Standard available but now is the time to remind those responsible for commissioning training that it’s there and they need to use it. … we’re calling on companies to make sure they provide mental health and wellbeing awareness training for their crew and that it meets the relevant standards. And only by looking for the MCG and MNTB logos can they be sure that the course will meet their specific needs and be delivered by someone who understands the environment they work in.’

The Seafarers’ Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training Standard, published by MNTB, is available from maritime publishers Witherbys for a nominal £10 fee. To buy a copy readers are invited see here: https://www.witherbyseamanship.com/a-standard-for-seafarers-mental-health-and-wellbeing-training-ebook.html

For information readers may wish to contact Valerie Coleman, MCG Programme Development Manager by e-mail on Valerie.coleman@seafarers.uk  or call 07515 050 301

About MCG

The MCG fosters collaboration across the maritime charity sector. It does this by sharing information, commissioning research, supporting the education and welfare of seafarers and their families and by the promotion of best practice within the maritime charity sector. Our vision is for a maritime charity sector that works collaboratively to achieve the greatest impact for seafarers and their families.

For more information see here: www.seafarers.uk/about-us/partners/maritime-charities-group/

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