Mental Health Guide For Seafarers During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The current coronavirus outbreak isn’t just a matter of physical health anymore. It’s also become a mental health issue for everyone – the ones stuck in quarantine, those who know a COVID-19 patient personally, and of course the actual patients themselves. For seafarers, in particular, it may even add to the existing stress of their jobs as frontliners. 

Combined with how isolated seafarers are and the fact that cases at sea exist, it’s enough to cause a lot of anxiety. This often leads to coping methods – both healthy and unhealthy. Such a pandemic of this scale couldn’t be foreseen even with all the safety training offered by maritime training centers, so it’s natural to feel scared.

With this, it’s important to stay sane during such trying times. Here are ways to keep your mental health in check during the situation.

Practice standard precautionary measures

If you fear the possibility of catching the disease, you have to walk the talk and actually practice precautions as laid out by the Department of Health (DOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). This includes washing hands frequently, practicing proper sneezing and coughing, avoiding face touches, and of course, social distancing. By doing this, you can significantly reduce the rate of infection, keeping your mind at ease.

Try not to read too much news

It’s a must to keep yourself informed of what’s happening during the pandemic to ensure you know what you need to do. However, reading too much information about it may cause greater anxiety and stress. Try to limit the news you consume and take moments to think about other things so your life doesn’t revolve around everything pandemic-related.

Keep yourself occupied with various activities

Counseling psychologist Kate Thompson says that one of the commendable characteristics of seafarers is that they know how to keep themselves occupied despite the limitations at sea. They usually do it through activities such as sports, exercise, and the like. With the current situation, these boredom beating activities are essential in keeping you entertained and your mind away from the situation. You can even look over your previous basic training notes to refresh your skills during your breaks.

Don’t lose your connection with people

Social distancing is a must in these times. This means no gatherings, no meet-ups, and the like. But it doesn’t mean you have to be socially isolated as well. Take the time to call your loved ones and connect with them. You can do video chats, messages, and more so it feels like you’re together with them even if you’re far apart.

Get help when needed

If you’re feeling the strain of the pandemic quite hard, it’s in your best interest to consult a specialist and get help. There are organizations such as the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) that are dedicated to ensuring the welfare of every maritime professional. Make use of their resources in order to reduce your worries about the future amid the pandemic.

The COVID-19 situation is not something that will be dying down anytime soon. At most, it will take several months to a year before it’s resolved. While you cannot control how it will go, you can control how you respond to the anxiousness it will make you feel. Follow the tips above in order for you to feel less fearful and uneasy.

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