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Mental health and wellbeing of seafaring personnel during COVID-19: Scoping review

Publication date: 

22 Sep 2022


Journal of Occupational Health, Volume64, Issue1 January/December 2022 e12361


Brooks SK and Greenberg N

Publication type: 



Abstract Objectives We aimed to synthesize published literature on seafarers' mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods This scoping review searched four electronic databases for literature on the mental health and wellbeing of seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results Fourteen studies were included in the review. Few reported on the prevalence of mental health conditions. Only one compared mental health data gathered during the pandemic to pre-pandemic matched samples, suggesting symptoms of depression and anxiety were greater during the pandemic. There was some evidence that mental health worsened with longer stays on board during the pandemic and being on board longer than expected. Crew exchange difficulties forced many participants to extend their contracts or delay repatriation, often with little information as to when they might get to go home, leading them to feel they had no control over their lives and causing concern about fatigue and the potential for accidents and injuries. Participants described other challenges such as denial of shore leave; concerns about finances and future employment; loneliness and isolation; fears of COVID-19 infection; limited access to essential supplies; and feeling unsupported by management. Conclusions Maritime organizations must understand how best to support their staff in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and in any other prolonged crises that may arise in the future. Recommendations include ensuring that staff feel valued by their organization; enhancing work-related autonomy; ensuring that communication is accurate, consistent, and timely; and using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to inform emergency preparedness policies.