Seafarers mental health take center stage at SM

According to a study done by the International Maritime Charity Sailor’s Society and Yale University, about 26% of the world’s seafarers show signs of depression. Some of its causes include stress, harassment, bullying, fatigue, loneliness, piracy and isolation from family. These factors can have a big impact on their mental health and it is due to these causes that there had been reports of suicide. Based on a study done by the World Health Organization (WHO), seafaring is the second-most at risk profession worldwide when it comes to suicide.

In order to shine light and start a conversation on the alarming issue on mental health especially among seafarers, the Gregorio Oca Leadership & Development (GOLD) Foundation in partnership with SM Global Pinoy, the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) and International Seafarers Welfare & Assistance Network (ISWAN) hosted the “Kumusta, Kabaro?” Day last October 9 at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall in Pasay City.

“Kumusta, Kabaro?” is a comprehensive mental health program launched by GOLD Foundation last June 19, 2018. The program intends to raise the awareness of the maritime community and the general public about the struggles that sea-based migrants face during their repeated departures from home. It provides information about mental health issues and markers of depressive behaviors among crewmembers and seafaring family members.

 “Ang issue ng mental health ay kailangan nating pag-tuunan. Hindi na ‘to isang bagay na kailangan natin i-deny,” (The issue on mental health needs attention and we can no longer ignore this) said Marissa Oca, Chair of the Gregorio Oca Leadership & Development (GOLD) Foundation.

Atty. Noli Partido, Head of the Legal Department of AMOSUP, also pointed out that the issue on mental health is something we need to look at closely.  “We need to act on the issue and come up with preventive and relevant steps to take care of our seafarers’ mental health” Partido said.

With the theme “The Seafarer Community for Global Mental Wellness”, the “Kumusta, Kabaro” Day aims to deliver hope and to promote mental wellness to our Filipino Seafarers. The event was also held in celebration of World Mental Health Day last October 10.

Over 500 members of the maritime industry, seafarers, cadets and their families participated in the event which consisted of various talks and inspirational messages from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), the International Seafarers Welfare & Assistance Network (ISWAN), the Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Psychotrauma Clinic. It also included Zumba exercises and other wellness activities that the participants can enjoy.

Glenn Ang, Program Director of SM Global Pinoy said, “SM believes that the seafarers’ mental health is a serious concern that we need to focus on and we fully support the maritime industry’s advocacy in raising awareness about the issue.”

SM Global Pinoy is the program of SM Prime Holdings that supports the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers and their families. It aims to give back and honor OFWs and their families through exclusive services, perks and privileges in its 31 SM Global Pinoy Centers nationwide.