Seafarer wellbeing and mental health is at the forefront of a lot of peoples’ minds in the maritime industry - it’s no secret that maritime jobs are not an easy option when it comes to choosing a career. Time spent away from family and friends and sleeping and eating in an enclosed space can take its toll.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of awesome things about a seafarer’s life - there are! But employee wellbeing needs to be taken into account in this unique industry.
How to create a community onboard when working in maritime jobs
As a seafarer, a huge part of ensuring your time spent on board isn’t damaging your mental health is making the most of the sense of camaraderie that comes with spending so much time with a small group of people. Having time alone to relax and catch up with loved ones via social media is crucial, but the power of a community spirit can’t be overstated.
Why aren't seafarers socializing more at sea?
It’s all very well saying that community is important but how can that be achieved when so many seafarers are engaging in so little interaction with each other while onboard? Are you guilty of heading straight back to your cabin and not interacting with your fellow crew members?
These relationships form a support system while you’re at sea and they may be the key to helping lift the spirits of anyone who is feeling less than 100%.
Of course there are other factors that make socializing at sea a little more difficult these days: trips can often be shorter, and so is that crucial bonding time spent in port with your shipmates. Smaller crew numbers also play a part in the amount of social interactions that are possible to have and the removal of bars and alcohol onboard have also taken away that friendly drink after a shift is over.
And as vessels become connected to WiFi, all of this has led to a continuation of the way we rely on technology and gadgets when ashore. Of course, it would be foolish to suggest that you shouldn’t take your games console, cell phone, laptop, music player or eReader on a trip but unplugging and making time for some human interaction will benefit everyone concerned.
No one’s suggesting you need to be the life and soul of the party but, as with any job, work is always easier when you’re enjoying yourself!
Related: How to Deal with a Negative Crewmate
Tips for socializing more when working in jobs at sea
Whether some shipping companies should do more to create camaraderie among their crews is open to debate, but as a seafarer there are definite steps you can take to make life onboard more enjoyable. Here are a few ideas.
- Create a chat group. Okay, we know we only just said that you should unplug but bear with us for a moment. These days we’re all used to being in message groups on chat apps and it might be easier to connect with your fellow crew members online to arrange a hangout, or even just to share a joke. These small actions will help to create a sense of community.
- Head to the gym. If you’re lucky enough to be working on a container ship that has exercise equipment ask someone else onboard to come along to spot you. Or arrange a contest such as who can do the most chin ups during the course of a voyage. This is a great way of spurring people on through some friendly competition and the beauty is, they can be done at any time and tallies kept on a chalkboard or notice board in the gym.
- Arrange a movie night. Pick a movie, arrange a time, let people know. Simple! And don’t forget to hold showings at different times so that those on different watches can take part as well. Watchkeepers can suffer from issues caused by tiredness and mental health so show them a little love too!
4. Organize a gaming tournament. Yes, we know this is another electronic based activity but this involves playing as a team or in a knockout type competition, not alone in your cabin! Don’t forget to post start times and results in your group chat to whip up some friendly rivalry!
5. Learn from your fellow seafarers. Any free time you have in the periods of downtime in your maritime jobs could be put to good use by swapping skills, talents or knowledge with other crew onboard. This could be anything from learning the basics of coding to learning another language to becoming more familiar with other positions, different parts of the ship, or technologies onboard.
What tips do you have for creating a community for the months that you live your life at sea and work in maritime jobs? Is there anything we’ve missed that you know is a sure fire way to get you and your crew mates laughing onboard? If you’re reading this on social media, let us know!
Find your next contract with Martide now!
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for your next maritime job or contract, have you downloaded the Martide mobile app yet? The app is free and makes it quick and easy to apply for jobs at sea no matter where in the world you are. Get it now from Google Play for Android or from the App Store for Apple users.