Seafarers are the backbone of shipping industry. Shipping industry is often referred to as the invisible industry, whereas Seafarers are referred to as the invisible workforce. Most of us are not even aware that 90 percent of the goods are transported through ship. For outsiders, seafarers are happy go lucky people, who always bear a smile both on and off board ship. But the truth is these brave seafarers are performing the toughest job in the world by risking their life to put food on our plates and enable us buy desired goods showcased beautifully in stores.
These professionals should not be overlooked and deserve high respect because they are fulfilling our basic necessities making sure people continue to enjoy their life. Global trade is bound to come to a standstill without this workforce.
A seafarer is at the mercy of nature, they have to manage everything themselves and be prepared for the worst conditions. You are highly mistaken, if working in the ship seems fun to you as survival in such challenging conditions in not everyone’s cup of tea. But to our surprise, seafarers work happily under such adverse circumstances to meet their deadlines.
Travelling to different places and the nature of work makes seafarers more susceptible to several diseases and illnesses. Apart from diseases and injuries seafarers are also prone to psychological problems that are born out of homesickness, loneliness, fatigue and anxiety. But no matter what, seafarers continue to carry out their duties with the same intensity and the work on ship does not stop.
In this blog we are going to discuss about the basic problems which seafarers face while being on board.
1.)    Boredom
The major challenge which a seafarer experience is boredom. Boredom increases with the unavailability of people to interact and travelling on the same routes again and again. Their hectic routines lead to monotony and decreased social circle. Seafarers do their best to stay motivated and fully engaged in ship to overcome boredom, but that’s not enough at times and they fall into depression.

2.)    Family related stress
 Feeling of being away from your family and loved ones is the biggest emotional challenge which every seafarer has to face. It is a natural phenomenon when we are far from our family for a long period of time it becomes difficult for to maintain same feelings of love and care. To overcome the constant fear of nostalgia they get attached with shipmates and feel closer to them than their own family. Therefore maintaining interpersonal relationships with one’s spouse or with other members of his family is also pose a big time challenge to seafarers.

3.)    Feeling of not being with family when they are needed
Inability to make oneself present for special family occasions and at the time of grief or loss hurts seafarers to the core. Although seafarers’ rights of availing shore leave have been strengthened lately, refusal of shore leave continues to be source of stress for them which contribute to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. But, these circumstances don’t deter the spirit of a seafarer from performing their duties dedicatedly.

4.)    Burnout due to long working
Working at sea demands hard work and patience. Seafarers have a ongoing working routine seven days a week. In many instances, it is observed they fail to take the benefit of minimum number of rest hours required which eventually leads to low energy and decreased efficiency. This causes a state of discontentment ultimately leading to severe stress called burnout. These mental health concerns prove to be fatal and even life-threatening. To work efficiently at sea, everyone should abide by the minimum hours of rest policy.

5.)    Physical violence
According to a report, seafarers are being subjected to increasing levels of physical and psychological violence from piracy. Seafarers are held hostage for months without proper food and medical care. At times, this has led to the deaths, both through suicide and malnutrition.

6.)    Food related issues
Seafarers working in shifts have irregular meal routine that disrupts their eating pattern resulting in significant risk for diseases. It is important to sustain healthy and a balanced diet in order to combat these adverse situations at the sea. As per the reports, what to talk about variety of food many complain of insufficient quantity and bad quality of food.

7.)    Workplace harassment    
There is little documentation about workplace harassment at sea as it is little spoken about. Bullying and harassment is a big point of concern in maritime sector too and continue to be a challenge in this profession. Seafarers can be considered more vulnerable to harassment and bullying due to the tough nature of the profession and isolation.

8.)    Post traumatic stress disorder in case of death on ship
Working together in closed social system for long period of time a serious injury or even the death of a crew member can cause post traumatic stress disorder to rest of the crew members. According to research, approximately, 2,000 seafarers lose their lives at sea each year due to accidents and natural causes whereas, 15% of deaths at sea are because of suicide.

9.)    Poor interpersonal relationships
Now a day’s everyone is busy on mobile phones resulting in less interaction among seafarers on ship. Post working hours, it is often noticed officers and crew members prefer spending time in their own rooms rather than interacting with each other. As there are limited people working on a ship, so the very first step towards developing interpersonal relationship should be developing deep understanding of skills, knowledge and values each one possess. It is also recommended to avoid politics on ships to ensure that the assigned tasks are done smoothly and safely.

10.)     No alcohol and smoking in certain ships
To add to this, no alcohol and smoking at certain ships also pose a big challenge to seafarers addicted to alcohol or smoking who become irritable in its absence and tend to get into depression soon. The drug and alcohol policy for ships is an important code of conduct and it is compulsory for