In response to the article in The Guardian of 14 May 2020, “Deaths and hunger strikes point to mental health crises on stranded cruise ships” Sailors Society SA has stepped up its virtual support which the organisation has been offering since the lockdown situation.
The Crisis Response Network of the Society still has ongoing contact with seafarers on board vessels using Skype, telephone and social media to provide advice, support and arrange practical help for crews. We are in contact with the shipping company mentioned in this report regarding our availability to provide additional help and care. The Society shares mental health advice and counselling with seafarers and their families, who are concerned about the impact of the virus on their health and livelihoods
The Principal Chaplain records WhatsApp daily devotionals, encouraging messages and weekly church services should crew members require these. We find that a friendly voice with an encouraging message, offering advice and contact details works very well.
In a message to the seafarers, Rev van Schalkwyk, Co-ordinator of the CRN and Principal Chaplain said “If you are a crew member struggling at this time, you are not alone. We know this is a particularly distressing and unsettling time for many of you, and we are still very much here for you, willing to assist via Skype, phone and/or Email ”.
A special corona virus section of the Sailors’ Society website can be accessed at https://www.sailors-society.org/coronavirus, with health information and advice for seafarers on how to manage their mental health in light of the pandemic. Information is also available on www.saiss.co.za
The emergency telephone number is +27 83 301 8022