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Seafarers’ wellbeing and diversity on topmost priority At Synergy

India, June 26, 2019: Synergy Marine Group, in collaboration with iCall and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) organised a day-long training session on understanding and addressing the wellbeing oriented concerns of seafarers at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

The session was inaugurated by Mr. Amitabh Kumar (IRS), Director General of Shipping – India in the presence of Capt. Rajesh Unni, Founder & CEO, Synergy Group, Dr. Aparna Joshi, Project Director, iCall and members from the seafaring community.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Amitabh Kumar said “Mental health of seafarers is one area that has caught the attention of the industry which really believes in processes, safety and security, and mental health really compromises on safety and security. This is one area which needs a solution, a lot has already been done to identify the causes of the failing mental health of seafarers, especially in the context of Indian seafarers. I am glad that the Synergy Group and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences have come together to find a solution.” The efforts being put in by Synergy Marine Group, iCall and Tata Institute of Social Sciences towards this endeavor are laudable and praiseworthy.”

The key objectives of the programme are to sensitise participants on issues of distress, mental illness and gender; to build skills for responding to concerns of mental health empathetically in a gender sensitive manner; and to equip participants with self-help coping mechanisms for addressing their own distress and offer support to others at sea.

“Fact remains that seafarers from the south and south-east Asia constitute a majority of the seafaring workforce and come from a unique socio-cultural background. Seafarers are sure to suffer the debilitating impact of psychosocial issues given the social isolation when onboard ships. Effective training options on wellness and stress resilience awareness are imperative and indispensable in addressing this problem. Any shipping organisation needs to commit to a positive ‘wellness at sea’ culture. Seafarers too need to have an open culture onboard concerning psychological health. Mental health issues onboard ships are hazardous and need to be addressed with the same urgency and commitment that we address safety-related issues. Training should be made mandatory for senior ship board staff to equip them with skills to address and promote psychological wellbeing of seafarers at sea to ensure that no seafarer takes the extreme step just for lack of help.” said Capt. Rajesh Unni in his keynote address.

Dr. Aparna Joshi, Project Director, iCALL , in her welcome address said, “Creating a network of support for seafarers is extremely necessary to address issues of mental health. It will further help in eliminating the stigma around mental health and encourage Seafarers to come forth and seek help. We are proud to be launching this one-of-its kind psycho-social curriculum which aims at responding to wellbeing-oriented concerns among seafarers. Initiatives such as these will contribute significantly to sustainably building a better quality of life for those on board.”

In October 2018, Synergy launched a new wellness-at-sea Helpline called iCALL, a nine-language service designed to reduce seafarer suicides and enhance the general mental health and wellness of all maritime personnel. The service is available 24x7, free of charge via phone, e-mail and a chat-based nULTA App.

“The worrisome fact is that the majority of the callers to the iCall Helpline are in the age group of 18 – 25. This clearly indicates that we need our senior officers onboard to understand and enhance mental wellbeing at sea and also respond to the emotional / psychological distress of seafarers onboard. In a nutshell, they need to take on the role of wellness champions,” added Capt. Unni.

Synergy also has a long-standing commitment to gender equality. The last one year saw a major increase in female seafarers employed at Synergy, including the recent appointments of the first female Master Mariner to the Synergy fleet, first female Marine Superintendent ashore and the first Filipino female cadet onboard an LPG carrier.

“The module on gender sensitization is aimed towards being a catalyst for real change, so that over a period of time women seafarers can integrate themselves, without the need for them to have to prove themselves at every step and become accepted and appreciated by their colleagues, both ashore and at sea” concluded Capt. Unni.

The training program was based on empirical research and counseling techniques was provided free of cost to the seafarers.

About Synergy Group

The Synergy Group, with over a decade of experience as a leading shipmanager, offers end-to-end maritime solutions and services tailored to the specific requirements of clients. In-depth technical expertise and a diverse product portfolio enable Synergy to generate efficiency and productivity gains to enhance the customer experience for all clients.

Headquartered in the globally connected city-state of Singapore, Synergy’s hallmark is tis through-life approach to asset management and maritime solutions custom-designed to client requirements.

With 12 offices in six key maritime centres and over 225 vessels under management, Synergy supervises a diverse fleet which includes LPG tankers, chemical tankers, oil tankers (VLCC, Suezmax, Aframax, LR2, LR1 and MR), container vessels in the 1,800 TEU-20,000+ TEU range and every size of bulk carrier.

Synergy’s holistic approach to seafarer wellness was recognised this year when it won the prestigious 2019 Seatrade Award for Investment in People. Synergy was also named ‘Shipmanager of the Year’ at the 2018 Lloyd’s List Asia Pacific Awards.

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