IN A NUTSHELL…
We are the sister company of an MCA certificated crewing agency. We employ a clinical psychologist and experienced mental health trainers, using their knowledge and ours, to provide tailored mental health services to the maritime industry.
Our services include a 2-Day Seafarer Mental Health Awareness & Wellbeing Course (which is recognised by the Bahamas Maritime Authority and the Merchant Navy Training Board and is endorsed by the UK Chamber of Shipping), weekly training and information videos that encourage seafarers to maintain good mental health onboard (which go to an audience of over 15,000 seafarers) and bespoke consultancy.
Our mission is simple: HAPPY SEAFARERS!
OUR ‘ORIGINS’ STORY…
Our crewing agency specialises in providing security crew to passenger ships. We do more than the average agency. Our crew attend a 10-day pre-deployment training course in-country, and our clients receive ongoing consultancy whilst our crew are onboard. This ranges from mandatory ISPS requirements (SSA’s, OSSS’s etc) to high-level non-ISPS bespoke consultancy, carried out by one of our personnel with both seafaring and military (Royal Marines) experience.
When COVID hit, it was our responsibility to anticipate what the potential security threats would be to a cruise ship in cold lay-up, with hundreds of crew onboard who couldn’t disembark. Would the ships be intercepted by migrant boats? Could COVID mean a spike in terrorist activity? Would ships located in certain areas be subject to low-level piracy?
It was our belief that the biggest threat to the crew onboard was a potential deterioration in their mental health, and how that might manifest. With so much uncertainty around COVID, especially during those first few months with the spotlight being unfairly but firmly pointed at the cruise industry, our primary concern was the welfare of our crew.
Having reviewed the studies and papers in the public domain pertaining to seafarer mental health, it was evident that there were issues beyond the impact of COVID, and there was a lack of services available to ship owners and managers that took a proactive approach to crew wellbeing. We needed to do something for our crew at the very least, who were onboard and did not know when they were going to get home to see their loved ones. It was a very testing time for all – both onboard and shoreside - and still is.
Once we had established that there was a lack of options providing pro-active mental health services, it was time to start working subject-matter expert, so we engaged with two highly-experienced mental health trainers with a personal connection to maritime and over 50-years’ experience working in mental health training and professional services between them, and a clinical psychologist who specialises in positive psychology, to develop a proactive solution to supply to our crew. This gave birth to our first service, our Weekly Training and Information videos.
We brought on a BBC Producer and Director, a professional cameraman and editor, and took guidance from the mental health experts we work with, to develop our weekly videos. These were supplied to our crew, and all crew on the ships where they worked, free of charge. These videos are now shown to an audience of over 15,000 seafarers across every major industry sector, and we have client/crew surveys which demonstrates their effectiveness.
Since then, we have gone on to develop our 2-Day course – based on the standard: A Standard for Seafarers’ Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training, developed by the Maritime Charities Group and The Merchant Navy Training Board – which we deliver in person or online. The course has proven to be a huge success and is recognised by the Bahamas Maritime Authority and the Merchant Navy Training Board, and is endorsed by the UK Chamber of Shipping.
We also provide bespoke consultancy through Clinical Psychologist, Dr Vikki Barnes.
We are still at the beginning of our journey, but it has been a fantastic experience and will continue to be so. We are privileged to work in this amazing industry, with so many incredible people from all over the world and all walks of life.
Seafarers can go through hard times, but most of them love their job. However… if you need some help getting your crew to form healthier habits onboard, or training for your crew managers and SMT on how to recognise poor mental health and what to do when faced with a mental health crisis onboard, then please get in touch. We can help.
Behind the Scenes
Dr Vikki Barnes
Consultant Clinical Psychologist