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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the key role that seafarers play in the global supply chain. As the pandemic took hold in early 2020 a significant crew change crisis unfolded globally due to border closures, strict quarantine requirements and a faltering vaccination rollout. In normal times the mental health of seafarers has been recognised as crucial to their wellbeing and safety at sea. Stranded aboard their vessels and with an unclear pathway out of the pandemic the mental health of seafarers deteriorated significantly driving some to suicide.
With 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea at one point, the issue was framed as an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Stakeholders within the maritime industry including companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) responded by providing mental health and psychosocial support typical of crisis intervention aiming ‘to protect or promote psychosocial wellbeing and/or prevent or treat mental disorder’ as defined by the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings. However, it is unknown which of these measures are available to seafarers, and perhaps more importantly, which interventions they believe are most beneficial to their mental health and wellbeing. These are the questions our study explored. In this report, we present our findings and analyse the psychosocial or mental health interventions that seafarers have experienced, as well as how these measures are perceived in the context of the ongoing pandemic. We can evaluate individual intervention measures and provide policy recommendations based on this data.