Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing

In support of mental health and wellbeing, on 25 October the World Maritime University (WMU) concluded the delivery of a month-long pilot training course entitled “Introduction to mental health and wellbeing: WaW – We are Well”. The course aimed to raise awareness of mental health – particularly stress, depression and anxiety  – and its impact on general health and wellbeing of individuals and within organizations. With a special focus on the maritime and ocean industries, the course provided tools and guidance to develop useful habits of self-care complemented by practical mental hygiene techniques. Topics covered included mental health stigma, stress and communication, resilience, and suicide in the maritime context.

The course was conducted by clinical psychologists and researchers with considerable experience in the maritime industry including Dr Maria Carrera, Clinical Psychologist and WMU Research Associate, Mr Charles Watkins, Clinical Psychologist/Psychotherapist and Managing Director of Mental Health Support Solutions, and Dr Inga Bartusevičienė, WMU Assistant Professor of Maritime Education and Training.

WMU students have met the academic and social challenges of being away from their home countries for 14 months while experiencing the global spread of Covid-19. Such uncertainty can have an impact on psychological health and the course provided tools for the future maritime and oceans leaders to develop their understanding and awareness of wellbeing and mental health issues for their own benefit as well as that of people working in the maritime industry. Upon returning to their home countries, they will be able to use their We are Well knowledge to raise awareness about mental health and influence positive change in the industry. 

The course was delivered to 17 students, from across all specializations, in the Class of 2021. Feedback included that the course was effective not only for their roles as maritime professionals, but also for maintaining their own mental wellbeing in day-to-day life. “As maritime professionals with mostly science or engineering backgrounds, we rarely get to know about these sensitive topics. But I feel that mental wellbeing is like a driving force for all in any discipline to keep a work-life balance,” said one of the participants.

The “We are Well” training course contributes to WMU’s overall mission of capacity building. Educating maritime and ocean leaders to promote mental health within the industry, particularly the wellbeing and mental health of seafarers, supports the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals: 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).

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