Maritime charities launch mental health awareness and wellbeing training standard.


The Maritime Charities Group, a coalition of 10 major maritime charities, has joined forces with the Merchant Navy Training Board to publish a good practice guide to designing a training course for seafarers on mental health and wellbeing awareness. Written by experts from the maritime and education sectors in response to the growing mental health crisis amongst seafarers, the new Seafarers’ Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training Standard was launched today, during Seafarers Awareness Week, with widespread endorsement from key stakeholder groups.

Author of the guide, Master Mariner and academic, Dr Chris Haughton, explained why the Standard is needed: “Mental health awareness training is needed now more than ever and there are many reputable providers offering really good training courses. But the majority of those courses are generic and really don’t address the specific issues facing seafarers. If you’re working at sea you need a course that’s much more targeted otherwise it just won’t be relevant. That’s why we’ve developed the Standard, setting out clearly what a good training course should cover.”

Aimed at prospective buyers of training courses as well as potential participants, the Standard sets a benchmark for training that aims to develop a keen awareness and appreciation of mental health and wellbeing amongst all types of seafarers, as well as those with an interest in seafaring. It includes course content, delivery and the qualification requirements of course facilitators.

MCG member the Seafarers Hospital Society took a leading role in the work. They were concerned about the proliferation of mental health awareness training courses of varying quality that did not address the specific issues faced by seafarers due to the nature of their work. The Society approached the MCG for help in bringing together a wide range of stakeholders to agree a way forward and the Standard was the result.

Reflecting on the collaborative effort that went into developing the Standard, Commander Graham Hockley LVO RN and Chair of the MCG, said: “One in four people will develop a mental health problem during their lifetime, but the incidence amongst seafarers is much higher. The Covid-19 crisis has made the situation for seafarers even worse so now is exactly the right time to publish this guide. We are incredibly grateful to the members of our working group, without whom this would not have been possible. They include training providers, shipping companies, the MCA, MNTB, Trade Unions, maritime charities and academics – all working together in the interests of seafarers’ mental health and wellbeing.”

There is widespread endorsement for the Standard from academics, trainers and industry alike. Welcoming the initiative shipping industry representative, Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the UK Chamber of Shipping said: “We are delighted to be working with the MCG to make this Standard available. Whilst it may not be mandatory, it is certainly advisory and we would encourage all ship owners and training providers to adopt it. But the crew have an important role to play here too. Everyone who signs up to a training course on mental health and wellbeing awareness needs to look for the MCG and MNTB logos. That’s the only way they can be assured the course will meet their specific needs and be delivered by someone who understands the environment they work in.”

The Standard is being published by MNTB and is available from maritime publishers Witherbys for a nominal £10 fee. To buy a copy go to

For all press enquiries, please contact Laura Simons, Consultant to MCG, on 0774 773 2039 or email

For information contact Valerie Coleman, MCG Programme Development Manager by email on or call 07515 050 301


The MCG fosters collaboration across the maritime charity sector. It does this by sharing information, commissioning research, supporting the education and welfare of seafarers and their families and by the promotion of best practice within the maritime charity sector. Our vision is for a maritime charity sector that works collaboratively to achieve the greatest impact for seafarers and their families.

For more information go to


Members of the working group responsible for commissioning and developing the Standard were:

·      Valerie Coleman, Programme Development Manager, Maritime Charities Group

·      Lysanne Wilson, Health Development Manager, Seafarers Hospital Society

·      Captain David L Watkins, Befrienders Worldwide

·      Captain Andrew Keane, Seafarer Wellbeing Programme, Shell

·      Marc Williams, Human Element Policy Manager, MCA

·      Pav Hart-Premkumar, MCA

·      Karen Passman, Owner, Impact Crew

·      Richard Selby, Managing Director, Quay Medical

·      Lauren Bishopp, Project Manager, MNTB

·      Steven Gosling, Quality Assurance Manager at Videotel Marine International

·      Mark Carden, Assistant National Secretary, RMT

·      Joanna Butler, Mental Health & Wellbeing Specialist, Blackpool & The Fylde College

·      Captain Neil Atkinson, Head of Fleetwood Nautical Campus

·      Kathryn Neilson, Chief Executive, MNTB

·       Tracey Keane, Chief Executive, Tracy Keane Training


The current members of MCG are:

Greenwich Hospital

Greenwich Hospital, Her Majesty’s unique Royal Naval Crown Charity, has been providing crucial support to serving and retired Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families for over 300 years. Whether it’s through educational support, advice, grants, sheltered housing, financial or hardship support, our focus is on proactive intervention to improve the lives of our beneficiaries. Working directly, or in close collaboration, with naval organisations and charity partners, our aim has remained unchanged since 1694; reaching out to those who would benefit from our support and helping them make a real and lasting difference to their lives.


ITF Seafarers’ Trust

The ITF Seafarers Trust is a UK charity established in 1981, which funds programmes that advance the wellbeing of maritime workers, seafarers and their families. They are funded by the Trust’s own capital funds and by the investment income of the Welfare Fund at the International Transport Workers Federation, a global federation of 665 transport workers’ unions representing 20 million workers in 147 countries, nearly 200 of which represent over 650,000 seafarers spread across the world.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation

The Lloyd's Register Foundation is a UK charity established in 2012 with a mission to protect the safety of life and property, and to advance transport and engineering education and research. The Foundation promotes scientific excellence and acts as a catalyst working with others to achieve maximum impact. We meet our aims by awarding grants, by direct activity, and through the societal benefit activities of our trading group, which shares our mission. Through our grant making we aim to connect science, safety and society by supporting research of the highest quality and promoting skills and education.

Merchant Navy Welfare Board

As the umbrella charity for the UK Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) supports and promotes co-operation between organisations that provide welfare services to merchant seafarers, fishermen and their dependents. The Board has over forty Constituent member charities and maintains sixteen Port Welfare Committees covering all UK ports and Gibraltar, organises maritime charity conferences, working groups and also provides support for the Falkland Islands.

Nautilus Welfare Fund

The Nautilus Welfare Fund is a UK-registered charity administered by Trade Union, Nautilus International, offering a range of specialist services to support retired seafarers and their dependants. These include a care home and independent living on the Mariners’ Park Estate as well as specialist support projects and financial assistance to those in need.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity

As the national charity of the Royal Navy, the RNRMC recognises the demands on those who serve and their family members. It is the charity's belief that while one person joins, the whole family serves. The charity is continuing to work hard to meet the needs of the entire Navy family during the pandemic. Through grants given to ships and units deployed, post-service transition, family support and care in old age, the RNRMC is helping to create a world in which the sacrifice that our serving men and women have made is recognised, no matter what.

Seafarers UK

Seafarers UK is a charity that has been providing vital support to the men and women who work at sea and are in need, and to those in maritime education or training, for over 100 years. The charity does this by giving grants to organisations and projects that make a real difference to people’s lives. Seafarers UK receives no government funding and is heavily dependent on public donations and legacies. Last year Seafarers UK was able to give £2.2million in funding to more than 40 maritime welfare and youth charities.

Seafarers Hospital Society

The Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) is a maritime welfare charity that has been caring for the health and welfare of seafarers since 1821. Today the Society provides a range of health and welfare services to UK-based seafarers and their dependants, including emergency grants for anything from stairlifts to washing machines, free, rapid-access physiotherapy and access to free mental health and wellbeing support through Big White Wall. The Society is also working on the SeaFit programme, a joint initiative with the Fishermen’s Mission and funded by Seafarers UK, which aims to deliver sustainable improvements in the health and wellbeing of fishermen and their families around the UK.

The TK Foundation

The TK Foundation is a private independent foundation organised in the Bahamas in 2002. The Foundation is named for J. Torben Karlshoej, “T.K.”, who grew up on a farm in Denmark and later founded the Teekay Shipping Company, now Teekay Corporation. The TK Foundation’s mission is to fulfil TK’s legacy by enabling disadvantaged youth to succeed and promoting maritime education and safety. Since its inception in 2002, The TK Foundation has awarded over $46 million in grants to non-profit organisations and projects to improve the maritime realm and the lives of disadvantaged youth.

Trinity House

Trinity House is a charity dedicated to safeguarding shipping and seafarers, and providing education and support to the seafaring community with a statutory duty as a General Lighthouse Authority. As one of the UK's largest endowed maritime charities, the welfare of mariners and of those who depend on them has always been at the heart of its reason for being.