The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has launched its #SARyouOK? initiative to promote awareness and further break down the stigma attached to mental health and well-being issues for those working in the maritime search-and-rescue (SAR) sector.
The initiative was first announced on the final day of the organisation’s G5 International Mass Rescue Conference in June 2022 in Gothenburg, Sweden, by Caroline Jupe, the IMRF’s Head of Fundraising and Projects. This project is supported by the UK’s Trinity House DFT Maritime Safety Fund.
‘SAR workers often face stresses that are not present in other high-risk fields of work. First responders put themselves in harm’s way, repeatedly putting their physical and mental well-being at risk. It’s time we unite as a maritime SAR community to discuss how we can best tackle this issue for all SAR professionals’ benefit,’ Caroline said.
According to research by King’s College London, on behalf of human rights at sea, SAR first responders face the same risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as that combat veterans. However, by putting good measures in place early, the risk of such conditions can be substantially reduced.
The aim of the IMRF’s #SARyouOK? initiative is to produce guidance and best practice framework for implementing mental health and well-being practices in SAR Organisations, providing tangible and practical advice that SAR organisations can use to implement in their operations.
The IMRF is also planning to host an online workshop and an in-person seminar on mental health and well-being in 2023 and release several blogs, videos and podcasts, allowing SAR responders and organisations to talk about their experiences.
‘I hope this project will help address the challenges the maritime SAR community faces regarding their mental health,’ said Theresa Crossley, CEO, IMRF.
‘Most importantly, I hope we can foster an open and honest environment where the mental health and well-being of SAR personnel is discussed and come up with some positive actions that any SAR organisation can implement,’ she added.
‘Seafarer well-being is of vital importance to the wider maritime community. The mental welfare of those working at sea is thankfully becoming more talked about, and Trinity House is proud to assist the IMRF with its #SARyouOK? An initiative using funds made available by the Department for Transport,’ said Trinity House’s Deputy Master Captain Ian McNaught.
To kick start the initiative, the IMRF is looking to put together a working group with representatives from SAR organisations, including our members, to discuss current mental health frameworks and best practices. If you are interested in joining the IMRF‘s official #SARyouOK? working group, visit here.