Maritime Mental Health Report

Our Ref: HSR/1/9
Head Office Circular: NP/204/21
10th June 2021
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


Further to Head Office Circulars NP/157, dated 4th May 2021 and NP/171/21, dated 21st May 2021, following the undertaking of a survey of members on maritime mental health and a subsequent report from the National Secretary, your National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 27th May, resolved as follows:

That we note the report and the survey results contained within. In line with the meeting that was convened to ascertain action points we now instruct the General Secretary to

Produce matrices at companies where we have recognition to ascertain differing approaches to mental health or if they even have Employee Assistant Programme in place

New posters as well as a rehash of the “Don’t Suffer in Silence” campaign with additional short videos to be produced on Maritime Mental Health

Consider introducing Maritime specific Mental Health courses

Meeting to be arranged with Together All (Big White Wall) as well as link ups with MIND and See Me Scotland

Contact National Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Committee to determine previous data with a view to initiate a joint campaign

To publicly launch an RMT brand campaign on Mental Health to coincide with day of the seafarer (25th June)

Maritime Members and Branches to be informed.

I am acting in accordance with these instructions.

Key findings from the Maritime Mental Health Survey of Divers, Offshore and Port Workers reveal that nearly 70% of members find themselves becoming anxious from time to time, although nearly 60% have no one to talk to in their workplace about mental health issues.

Of those who have access to a telephone counselling service (and nearly 55% do not have such access), nearly 75% do not have a regular point of contact, something RMT believes is very important in terms of establishing trust and confidence when discussing sensitive and personal issues.

Nearly 80% of employers do not provide any funding for counselling services and nearly 65% of members are unaware of any company policy on mental health.

Sadly – and astoundingly, given today’s supposedly progressive attitude towards mental health issues – nearly 32% of members have encountered hostility or ridicule in regard to mental health issues.

Key symptoms members have experienced include lack of sleep and tiredness, worrying about minor things, short temper, lack of confidence, lack of concentration, financial worries, impatience, hypertension, hyperventilation, tight chest, stomach pains, throat pains, random pains, mood swings, nervousness, over-thinking, thoughts racing, panic attacks, heart palpitations, lack of appetite, headaches, anxiety and depression.

In terms of what members would like their employer to do to support them, some key thoughts include awareness; listening; educating managers; eradication of a bullying culture; support facilities- maybe a dedicated helpline (perhaps with access to doctors), line; proper sick leave provision where it does not exist; more and better information to be made readily available; mental wellbeing breaks; a less stressful environment; reduced workloads; morale-boosting pay rises; and more time off and rotas providing greater work/life balance.

Members have asked RMT to consider a counselling service/telephone helpline; to raise awareness of and campaign on mental health issues; to provide more information and educate employers on the promotion of mental health support; to negotiate on the matters above which members would like their employer to do to support them; and to be aware that many of our members are self-employed. It was also flagged up that medicals just concentrate on physical, rather than mental health.

Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary