Mental Health Campaign

All seafarers have the right to work without suffering harassment & bullying. Unfortunately, there are seafarers that are victims of harassment and bullying. According the Guy Ryder, Director General of ILO, harassment and bullying on board ships can have serious consequences for the physical and emotional health of seafarers that may lead to decreased motivation and increased sickness which can compromise cohesive and effective teamwork. It can also have negative effects for companies, resulting in deterioration of working conditions and potential organizational, economic and legal consequences.

What is Harassment?

Harassment is a form of discrimination which has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. 

Examples of Harassment include:

  • Offensive physical contact, derogatory language or intimidating actions; • Insulting or threatening gestures or language (overt or implied) or continued and unwarranted shouting; 
  • Unjustified and unnecessary comments about a seafarer’s work or capacity to work; 
  • Openly displayed pictures, posters, graffiti or written materials which might be offensive to some; 
  • Phone calls or messages on electronic mail or computer networks which are threatening, abusive or offensive to colleagues; 
  • Persistent following or stalking; and 
  • Derogatory remarks about malingering to seafarers who have made a claim for compensation. 

Measures to Eliminate Harassment 

Company disciplinary codes may identify certain acts which could constitute to harassment and/ or bullying for which disciplinary actions may be taken. Examples include: 

  • Physical assault including sexual assault; 
  • Intimidation;
  • Coercion; 
  • Interference with the work of other seafarers; and 
  • Conduct based on gender affecting dignity of women and men at work which is unwanted, unreasonable and/ or offensive to the recipient. 

It is possible that sexual harassment may be deemed to have occurred irrespective of whether it was intended or not.

What is Bullying? 

Bullying is a form of harassment that includes hostile or vindictive behavior, which can cause the recipient to feel threatened or intimidated. It results in a work environment in which a group of people or an individual may become threatened or intimidated because of the negative or hostile behavior of another group of people or individual. 

Bullying may involve a misuse of power or position and is often persistent and unpredictable. It may be vindictive, cruel or malicious. However, it can also arise when a person is unaware of the effect that their behavior is having on the other person or does not have any intention to bully. 

Examples of Bullying: 

  • Verbal or physical threats or abuse, such as shouting or swearing at colleagues, either in public or in private, including derogatory or stereotyped statements or remarks; 
  • Personal insults; 
  • Belittling or ridiculing a person, or his/ her abilities, either in private or in front of others; 
  • Sudden rages or displays of temper against an individual or group, often for trivial reasons; 
  • Persistent or unjustified criticism. 

Seafarers should: 

  • Support the right of everyone to be treated with dignity and respect at work; 
  • Actively embrace a working environment in which harassment and bullying are not tolerated; 
  • Respect appropriate standards of behavior; • Know to whom they can turn if they have work-related problem; and 
  • Ensure colleagues are aware of their responsibilities under the company’s policy.

SeafarerHelp: The lifeline for seafarer 

If you or a family member want to talk through a problem you’re dealing with at home or at sea, SeafarerHelp is here for as long as you need. 

Call now on: +44 20 7323 2737 


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Guidelines for Mental Care Onboard Merchant Ships. (2009, May 2018). United Kingdom. International Chamber of Shipping & International Transport Workers' Federation. (2016). Guidance on Eliminating Shipboard Harassment and Bullying. London.

Last modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 9:53 AM