Causes of Stress that Seafarers Are Experiencing on Board

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As defined by the International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare booklet which is entitled, “Guidelines for Mental Care Onboard Merchant Ships”, states that the most common signs of stress are insomnia, loss of mental concentration, anxiety, substance abuse, extreme anger and frustration, family conflict, and physical illnesses most likely: heart diseases, migraine headaches, stomach problems, and back problems.

According to Iversen (2012), there are other causes of stress that seafarers are experiencing while they are on board, and these are, the demands of their jobs, the level of control they have of their work, the support system that they receive from their employers or management and colleagues and the relationship that they have in their workplace. Most contracts of the non- rated seafarers will only last to nine- or ten- months. When the contracts end, the seafarers will have to deal with the anticipation and concerned if they will be renewed or not which also puts an end to the financial support that their family will receive. The Seafarer’s Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), requires a seafarer to receive a standard training before he/she will become a crew. The competency of the seafarers does not limit to the knowledge and certifications but also the skills that they will gain through experience throughout the years. The management should not just secure the formal skills that the seafarer should know but also secure the encouragement and inspiration needed to follow the regulations for safety. There are two basic dimensions of efficiency and these are the technical competency and the effort and commitment. Technical competency is learned through training, education and one’s experience while the effort and commitment is normally acquired by the social and economic conditions of employment.

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Strict maritime laws have not made the lives of the seafarers easier in any circumstances especially those officers who are at the management level. Some experienced incidents of being imprisonment, fined with a great cost, and got suspended as an outcome of not abiding such rules. Seafarers who have a rank in the management level will suffer greatly the strictness of the rules and due to this they are more prone to stress while sailing. The seafarers’ welfare is different when they are at sea from their welfare at port. Expectations that come within this welfare is the proper facilities that can cater the crews needs and those of his family. The responsibility of the welfare of each seafarer or that is beyond their voyage is most of the times uncertain. If ever if an emergency occurs, most of the companies implement policies which aid the seafarer to be flown home or assist him help in any ways that he might be needing. If ever the problem experienced may not reach the standard point of crisis, the crew may not be entertained with such assistance to ensure their welfare.

Although most of the companies do provide great facilities for their crew, many do not, which made workers to find self-support to ensure themselves. Working away from the family or love ones is a very hard task especially that this may lead to dissatisfaction and demotivation to their work that also can lead to stress. It is crucial and important to improve a social life by developing ones’ interpersonal relationship between the people that they work with to ensure smooth sailing in their workplace and voyage. Because the number or crew members on board is limited, it is ideal that everyone should try to know and understand each diversity of values, skills, knowledge and belief each one possess. According to Hill (1972), many find their relationship with their shipmates highly difficult to lack something that they find at sea and they prefer the companions that they found within their shipmates that they share a common bond with. The seafarers have commonality in each other because they share the same destiny. They share similar love for voyage or the sea, while the weather stands as an enemy for them and their ship is considered as their home. The quality of friendship differs when it comes to the particularity between officers and ratings. Some crew members feel that the distance between them and ratings or rankings is an exaggeration of what is express in their views of friendship. Although, officers are aware that there are difficulties in exercising authority and maintaining discipline that would not be similar in a military unit.

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