Mental health support for seafarers
The pressure on the mental and physical health of seafarers, who work in harsh environments and under constant pressure and increased responsibility, means that management of mental health continues to be a problem that is very difficult to approach and resolve
AP Companies has been providing a mental health helpline to seafarers working onboard ships, and during their time off, for some years now. Sometimes as a result of such therapy we have been able to help the Ship Master resolve complicated situations onboard by improving the mental state of a seafarer and avoiding serious conditions and consequences. Equally, there have also been cases where, due to the helpline, AP Companies was able to identify a situation in which the crew member could not stay onboard due to his mental health issue and had to be repatriated for urgent psychiatric help.
Alexander Novik (please note, all personal data has been changed for data protection purposes) was a mature 50-year-old seafarer, with huge experience on different vessels. He had been struggling with his mental health condition for quite a long time and an AP Companies doctor recommended that he be signed off the ship as he demonstrated symptoms of acute depression and needed urgent psychiatric treatment.
The ship master contacted AP Companies to arrange the evacuation from the next port, Odessa. Alexander was from Gomel (in Belarus) and due to his condition, flying was not recommended. AP Companies team therefore suggested a road repatriation. The nurse specialised and licensed for treating mental illness patients had to escort the crew member to Kiev, where his closest family members (his wife and his elder brother) would meet him, and then continue the journey to Gomel.
It had yet to be determined whether it would be necessary for the nurse to accompany the family on the second part of the trip. Everything would depend on how the first part of the trip (Odessa to Kiev) went and how Alexander felt. After careful consideration, it was decided that there was no need to make the trip from Odessa to Kiev in a ground ambulance, so the AP Companies team organised a transport provider who was able to provide a spacious car with a driver for the journey, which would take between six to eight hours.
Alexander was picked up by the nurse and they started their trip. By 9:00 p.m. on 23 February they arrived in Kiev. The trip went well and Alexander was looking forward to the meeting with his family. AP Companies arranged a hotel for Alexander and his family members in Kiev so that they could have a proper rest before the second part of the trip the following day. The AP Companies doctor advised a visit to a psychiatrist in Kiev in case Alexander experienced any dangerous episodes of anxiety, so the operations team booked an appointment for the next day. In the early morning of 24 February, however, the military conflict in Ukraine started and AP Companies and the insurance company had to decide very quickly how to proceed with Alexander’s case.
The AP Companies operations team contacted several ground ambulance providers in Kiev, and one of them agreed to perform the evacuation from Kiev to Gomel. It was approved by the insurer, and it was decided that for the benefit of Alexander and his family, that the AP Companies nurse would continue the trip with them. The drive from Kiev to Gomel would normally take around five hours, but due to special circumstances, that day it took eight hours to get Alexander and his family to his home town. Alexander was very happy to get back home, especially in such a difficult situation.