Over 25% of the world’s seafarers show signs of depression, according to the International Maritime Charity Sailor’s Society (IMCSS). Stress, harassment, bullying, fatigue, loneliness, and isolation from family can easily impact their mental health, which makes seafaring the second-most at risk profession worldwide when it comes to suicide.
To shine light on the issue, 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), held the “Kumusta, Kabaro?” Day at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall in Pasay City.
“Kumusta, Kabaro?” is a comprehensive mental health program launched by GOLD Foundation to raise awareness of the maritime community and the general public about the struggles seafarers face during their repeated departures from home.
With the theme “The Seafarer Community for Global Mental Wellness,” the project aims to deliver hope and to promote mental wellness among Filipino Seafarers. The event was also held in celebration of World Mental Health Day and was attended by over 500 members from the maritime industry and their families.
“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, AMOSUP Legal Department head, 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.
The event consisted of various talks and inspirational messages from different maritime groups, the Department of Health (DOH), and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Psychotrauma Clinic. It also included Zumba exercises and other wellness activities.
“SM believes that the seafarers’ mental health is a serious concern that we need to focus on. We fully support the maritime industry’s advocacy in raising awareness about the issue,” said SM Global Pinoy program director Glenn Ang.
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.