Synergy Group Launches Maritime Mental Health Service

Seafarers and maritime workers across the world can now access free mental health support with the launch of a new counselling helpline.

Singapore-based ship management company Synergy Group has unveiled iCALL, a free psychological service for the maritime community. It is available 24/7 via phone, email and a chat-based app in nine languages: English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Sindhi and Kutchi.

“Numerous studies into the psychological health of seafarers have shown that large numbers of seafarers suffer from obvious manifestations of impaired psychological wellbeing such as social isolation and depression,” said Synergy CEO and founder Rajesh Unni.

“That’s why we decided to create a 24/7 counselling centre for anybody who’s sailing, not just Synergy personnel. It is also available to shore-based personnel anywhere in the world.”

The service, which is confidential and anonymous, is supported by 14 counsellors based in Mumbai. Unni said all the counsellors have at least a Masters in Counselling or Clinical Psychology.

In a seminar in New Delhi last month, Unni urged the maritime industry to do more to address mental health issues among seafarers.

“5.9 percent of all deaths at sea are proven suicides,” he said. “If the suspicious cases of probable suicides – seafarers that went missing at sea – are considered, then this figure jumps to 18.3 percent which means almost one in five deaths at sea is a suicide.

“By any standards, that is terrible. Compare this to deaths ashore, where only 1 percent of deaths are attributable to suicides. There is no disputing we have a genuine problem here.”