Nearly 2 million seafarers globally make sacrifices every day in order to transport 90% of the world’s goods. Seafarers work long hours in rough and isolating conditions, and may be away from their home and family for more than nine months at a time. Life at sea comes with many difficulties, and seafarers are at a high risk for burnout, depression, anxiety, and suicide.
In a 2019 study conducted by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust*, 20% of seafarer participants reported suicidal ideation within the last 2 weeks. The survey also suggested that 25% of participants experienced depression and 17% anxiety (levels much higher than the general population).
In the last few years, the widespread mental health issues that seafarers experience have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to extended shipping contracts, a lack of shore leave, and increased isolation. Many seafarers have also been impacted by humanitarian crises such as the war in Ukraine; they are deeply concerned about the whereabouts and wellbeing of their family and community, and bear an increased pressure to remain at sea to financially provide for those back home.
The Mission of the Seattle Seafarers Center
The Seattle Seafarers Center plays a vital role in caring for seafarers visiting Puget Sound. Seafarers often go unnoticed, and our goal is to help crews know they are seen and cared for. We strive to welcome all seafarers we meet, elevate their dignity, provide them practical services, and improve mental health at sea.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For GiveBIG 2023, the Seattle Seafarers Center invites you to partner with us to support the wellbeing of seafarers in Puget Sound.
Thanks to two generous donors, the first $3,000 in gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar. And if your employer has a matching program, your donation could be tripled!
Your gift makes it possible for our staff and volunteers to visit over 450 cargo ships each year in the ports of Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma, providing practical and spiritual care to 12,000 crewmembers. Our trained ship visitors and chaplains offer a listening ear to seafarers, connect them with mental health resources, and provide communication tools so they can stay in contact with family and friends back home. We also transport crew to the city, so they can spend much-needed time off their ship sightseeing or shopping for personal necessities.
* Reference: ITF Seafarers’ Trust Seafarers Mental Health Study
The Seattle Seafarers Center has had a presence at the Port of Seattle since 1971. Today’s center is an ecumenical partnership between the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, the Archdiocese of Seattle, and the Northwest Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The Center is also part of a global ministry encompassing over 100 international centers and is affiliated with two international seafarer ministries: the Anglican Communion's Mission to Seafarers and the Roman Catholic’s Stella Maris. The Center is also affiliated with the North American Maritime Ministry Association.
Partnering with Discovery Health, over 6,000 seafarers received free, onboard vaccinations during the pandemic.
We are grateful to all our dedicated partners, sponsors, donors, and volunteers for making this vital mission possible. Thank you all!