About 250 seafarers onboard ten vessels have already taken the interactive mental wellbeing course, which is led by a clinical psychologist and enabled using technology that was previously believed to be ten years away.
The business has revealed a new shipping line client will be offering Tapiit Live’s training to 12 of its ships, each with up to 25 crew members, allowing another 300 seafarers access to vital skills that could improve their mental wellbeing and, potentially, save lives.
A large focus of the training is on the importance of speaking up to improve mental wellbeing, which is why the tech business is supporting Time to Talk Day, on Thursday, February 4, led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
Seafarer mental health has come under the spotlight in the past year with up to 300,000 stranded on ships due to pandemic travel restrictions and a further 300,000 at home unable to work according to International Maritime Organization figures.
Tapiit Live’s course, titled Mental Wellbeing at Sea at Times of Uncertainty, aims to prevent poor mental health at a time when many are dealing with feelings of isolation and depression and gives participants the tools to deal with situations such as anxiety.
The course sets itself apart through interactivity, allowing seafarers to talk to the psychologist in real time and then stay behind after class for one-to-one guidance if needed.
Richard Turner, chief executive of Tapiit Live and a former seafarer, said the business, launched in 2019, is already seeing the benefits to seafarers of talking about their problems.
He said: “Time to Talk Day promotes the idea that a small conversation about mental health can make a big difference and that’s the ethos upon which we have built our mental wellbeing courses. Life at sea can be isolating in normal times but it has become even more of a challenge during the past 12 months, with extended contracts and a lack of shore leave placing extra strain on seafarers’ mental health.
“The interactivity of our courses is what shipping companies and crew members buy into because it allows them to talk face to face with a psychologist, have real-time discussions. This is something that e-learning cannot offer.
“Recently we had a seafarer who stayed behind after a class to talk in private to the psychologist about how to sleep better, and they were offered some exercises they could do to improve the situation.”
Richard said promoting better mental health was most effective when change came from the top, with ship captains allowing crew the time and space to change patterns that could lead to problems. The training courses encourage people to get out of the cramped living conditions of their cabins and learn together in mess rooms, with this continuing even after courses have ended.
He said: “We offer a breathing space meditation activity as part of the course and one captain told us that his crew now gathers in the mess room and does this as a regular activity.
“Seafarers are in a unique environment, where they are isolated from their families, and, before we did this, we did think some may find it difficult to talk about their feelings. We’ve been surprised and humbled to see people sharing their opinions, asking questions and supporting one another through the courses, which shows the value of talking when it comes to mental wellbeing.”