World Mental Health Awareness Day - Care4C

Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day, a fitting day for Care4C to start its’ new blog as we look to tackle Mental Health at sea. 

Around 3 Years ago I was posed this question:-

How can we make the Shipping Industry more efficient?

I got to work looking at new mechanical and technological innovations in the Shipping Industry most of them were in relation to propulsion.

Then came the “lightbulb moment” very little has been done to improve the Safety Of Life At Sea with maybe one of the last major non-regulatory innovations being the Steel/Metatarsal capped work boots.

Whilst spending many weeks thinking about this I drew from my experiences at sea. I could think of numerous times that I had seen people physically and mentally deteriorate at sea as the months on their contract rolled on. This was further backed up by the hundreds of whitepapers on the subject, yet very few were actually acting on the concerns established in those papers nor were there any ways to consult measured data on the subject.

So my interpretation of the question leads me to answer it this way: To make the Shipping Industry more efficient we need to look after our crew (that works for all industries, to be honest).

The Human component is and will remain for the foreseeable future, the most important element in any maritime undertaking and risk management strategy. It is certainly the most important for the individual crew member and family involved!

According to IMO research, 85% of all accidents and incidents at sea can be attributed to human error, often caused by stress, fatigue and poor health. The effects of any accident or incident caused by fatigue or on the health, wellbeing and financial situation of the crewmember can be far-reaching.

The effect of prolonged, unmonitored and thus untreated stress periods on the general health and in particular on the mental condition of seafarers is well documented.

A chilling statistic in this respect is the one often cited that 15% of all fatalities at sea may be attributed to suicide.

Monitoring the various factors leading to these stress and fatigue-related conditions seemed an obvious choice.

Unlike their ‘terrestrial’ counterparts crew members spend many months away from home, in social isolation with no access to the medical care and recreation options that shore-based employees have access to.

Something had to be done.

We got to work building a foundation of a so-called mental health safety management system. Unfortunately, the technology at the time halted our progress so we stopped…

Little did we know that at the same time, back in Antwerp, the Care4C team were having very similar conversations and were making amazing progress.

Care4C has grown out of the synergies of a number of venture builders, scientists, insurance and shipping professionals, looking for ways to bring 21st Century digital health solutions into the shipping market.

For those of you who are not familiar with Care4C’s disruptive technology and have found this post through social channels. Care4C provides a physical and mental health management system for seafarers and offshore crew through gathering, analysing and reporting biometric data to flag stress, fatigue and the risk of related illnesses and accidents.

I joined the Care4C team only one month ago and we have made some fantastic progress, having made the pivot from chest-worn wearable to our very accurate and user-friendly wrist-worn devices.

The onshore testing of the new system is very promising and we are confident that in the next few months, we will start to make an impact on the vitally important topic of tackling Physical and Mental health at sea.

Over the next few months, we at CARE4C will be discussing and raising awareness of Mental Health at Sea and the factors that contribute to poor Mental and Physical Health, such as the unmonitored effects of  social media, work/rest hour regulations, time at sea, trading patterns etc on the fatigue, stress and mental conditions of seafarers. Various other (mental) health and the human-related risk and safety-related topics will also feature regularly on our aptly named Ship’s (B)log, where we encourage all from the maritime industry to get involved.