The programme starts with an introductory module that deals with some of the essentials. It then covers five key modules or core aspects of holistic wellness. These are:

1. Social Wellness
  • Communication (interaction between people) 
  • Interpreting and managing conflict within the workplace 
  • Diversity in the workplace 
  • Relationships with Family/Friends at Home
2. Emotional Wellness
3. Physical Wellness
  • General seafarers' health
    • Healthy food and hygiene
    • Fitness on-board
    • Dental care
  • Deceases
4. Intellectual Wellness
  • Essential seafarers’ rights
  • Piracy
  • Welfare organisations
  • My family and what they should know
  • Money Matters
5. Spiritual Wellness
  • An inclusive approach to spirituality, allowing space to reflect on spiritual beliefs. This is an optional section of the course.

A short introductory module at the beginning of the programme explains the concept of holistic wellness and its application to the seafaring world. Links between all five sections are drawn to illustrate the holistic philosophy.

It is strongly recommended that students begin with this introductory module before addressing any, or all, of the five modules.

We offer a flexible tailor-made service, which means that any number of modules can be selected to meet your requirements. Delivery of the course in full takes four days on average. However, we appreciate that time available ashore can be limited.

We are therefore able to deliver the course to suit your timescale. The course is available at two levels: an Officer Programme and a Cadet Programme.

Benefits to Your Business

Seafarer training has traditionally focused on the technical skills, and competence Mariners need to support safe and efficient shipping operations. More recently, regulations such as MLC 2006 have increased the focus on the physical needs of crews.

The pressures and unique conditions of the seafaring profession mean that many more shipping companies and ship managers are taking notice of their crews’ mental health.

The reasons for this go beyond altruism. Shipowners and managers realise that a healthy and happy crew is safer and potentially far more productive. The lost time arising from incidents can be disruptive and costly. In 2011, a master who tragically disappeared off the coast of Melbourne may have cost the
shipowner between $50,000 and $100,000 due to diversion and delay. (Robert T.B. Iverson, The Mental Health of Seafarers. 2012).

Tim Huxley, CEO of Wah Kwong, believes that the programme has the potential to be a game changer within the industry. This is largely due to the way in which the programme actively furthers the link between seafarer wellness and successful business.

Tackling issues before they impact on seafarers’ lives means the likelihood of not only fewer accidents, but a decrease in drop out rates and lost time due to sickness. An improvement in all of these factors leads to a more productive crew force.

Interest in employees’ health and well-being is beginning to grow across all industry sectors. A study conducted by Harvard University has shown that there is a strong case in favour of the effectiveness of wellness initiatives for employees. The study revealed that company medical costs fell by $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programmes and that absenteeism costs fell by $2.73 for every dollar spent. (Baicker, Cutler & Song, Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings, 2010.)

With shipping companies employing seafarers on long contracts, the potential to cut costs resulting from absenteeism and poor health is significant.

It makes sound business sense that successful shipping is dependent on the well-being of the human element.

A Brief Background to Wellness at Sea

In 2010, The Seafarer Wellness Programme was born in South Africa. Johan Smith, at that stage a port chaplain in the port of Cape Town, developed the programme with the assistance of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Seafarers’ Rights International, the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Network (MPHRP) and Seafarers UK.

Meanwhile, an industry-led advisory group met with Sailors’ Society to discuss crew attrition rates and the complex problem of maintaining wellness on board. The discussion highlighted the need for a dedicated programme to help prevent such situations arising.

Having caught wind of Johan’s programme, Sailors’ Society was enthused by the close parallels between Johan’s initiative and the Society’s vision for a seafarer wellness programme. In December 2014, Johan and Sailors’ Society joined forces with Johan becoming a full-time staff member, working from South Africa.

With Johan at the helm as Project Manager for the programme, the Society has adopted, and further developed Johan’s initial course to create today’s Wellness at Sea programme.



      Steamship Mutual


Champion: Sailors' Society
Learning content: Johan Smith
Learning excitement: Alexas_Fotos
Learning experience: Professionality Institute

Last modified: Sunday, 27 May 2018, 8:49 AM