While the life of a seafarer can often be exciting and will broaden horizons in a way that many careers can’t, at times it can also be an isolated one. The very nature of a seafarers life on board a ship means that days and weeks can pass without much contact with friends, family or partners on shore. And that’s precisely why it’s so crucial for crew members of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience to make the effort to stay in touch with the outside world. Whether this connection translates to knowing what’s going on with the kids’ schoolwork or global current affairs, being kept ‘in the loop’ can go a long way to maintaining a healthy and productive mindset. At Martide we understand this, and we know that a recruitment website can no longer just be ‘good enough’ - it needs to be so much more. It needs to be a software solution for the shipping industry that takes the health and well-being of its candidates into account, rather than merely filling roles.
In this life at sea article we aim to explore how seafarers can stay connected and currently one subject that’s often not far from the headlines is mental health. Stories about stressed out workers trying to deal with financial pressures or the need to keep up with the perfect lives depicted by social media influencers aren’t unusual. But while most of us are being advised to put down our devices and experience the ‘real world’, for seafarers, being online is a valid way to stay in touch with those they care about. Especially in an environment in which there are other issues to tackle such as working with people of different cultures and backgrounds and overcoming language barriers.
Staying positive, motivated and focused is of huge importance, both for the individual’s well-being and the working environment and vessel as a whole. And that’s where ship owners and operators come in. Understanding education for seafarers and ensuring that all of those on board are trained and certified to the appropriate levels is of paramount importance for anyone wanting to run a efficient and cost effective ship. This could mean fostering a crew-centric company culture and encouraging social activities on board. Or providing training for everything from mathematics for marine engineers to coding skills that keeps seafarers engaged and productive during their free time.
For everyone from the youngest cadet to a marine engineer family life often plays a large part in staying balanced and in good mental shape while on board. So what are some of the ways seafarers can stay connected? We touched on social media earlier, and while some may argue overuse can be detrimental for, say, teenagers, the power of social media for seafarers cannot be underestimated. Whether using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or, Snap-chat, being able to exchange a few words with a buddy onshore, catch up with entertainment or sports news, or sharing photos of life on-board can foster feelings of connectivity for many. Having said that, it’s also crucial that seafarers don’t go TOO far down the social media wormhole by resisting the temptation to dwell upon the people they miss while making the effort to socialize with their fellow crew members.
Life at sea comes with its own, very unique set of challenges - the learning curves of navigation at sea and living in a small space for example. But there are some bona fide advantages too! Such as the opportunity to travel the world while working in a traditional industry that is evolving in a truly exciting way as it embraces modern technology. And calling home every couple of days or staying in touch by social media, video calling or email should be built into a seafarer’s daily routine if they’re to maintain a healthy balance between engaging with the two very distinct sets of people in their lives: their loved ones at home and their fellow crew members. After all, it is this equilibrium that will enable a seafarer to perform, and enjoy, their job to the very best of their abilities.