The Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) has extended its free online mental health and wellbeing service to fishermen.

The service, provided by Big White Wall (BWW) and funded by the SHS, was initially launched in summer 2016, on a pilot basis, for merchant navy personnel. The need among the fishing community is just as great, and after just over a year, this highly-effective and well-regarded service is being extended to the fishing community.

This new service is open to all working, UK-based fishermen. It’s free, safe, supportive and completely anonymous – and it’s available 24/7 via an online portal. It includes access to trained counsellors, a support network, self-help materials, and one-to-one therapy.

Explaining the decision to extend the new service, Peter Coulson, SHS secretary, said: “We talk openly about some of the physical challenges of working at sea, but mental health and wellbeing is a topic we find harder to discuss. One in four people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, and seafarers are no different – in fact, they are probably under more pressure than most. Whether it’s general stress and anxiety, or feelings of depression, it can be hard to know what to do and difficult to know who to talk to. We recognise that, and we want to do something about it, which is why we’re extending the service to fishermen.”

Help is available on a wide range of issues, whether it’s coping with stress, reducing alcohol intake or dealing with depression – BWW will give fishermen a chance to talk about what’s worrying them.

The Fishermen’s Mission is fully supportive of the SHS initiative and is keen to play its part. Welcoming the decision to extend the service, chief executive Commodore David Dickens CBE, RN, said: “We know from our work in the community that mental health and wellbeing is a major issue for fishermen. It’s just as important as physical health, and we shouldn’t be frightened to talk about it. The Fishermen’s Mission has a crucial role to play in helping to address mental health needs, so we welcome the opportunity of working with the Society and Big White Wall to provide support to our fishermen.”

SHS and the Fishermen’s Mission are working together to publicise the scheme. This includes distributing leaflets and posters through Fishermen’s Mission staff around the country, and generally getting the message across at every opportunity.

Fishermen can access the new service easily and quickly via the SHS website. The process is simple and straightforward and is completely anonymous. For further information about the scheme, contact Lysanne Wilson on: 020 8858 3696.

Big White Wall

Big White Wall is an anonymous online community of people who are experiencing common mental health and wellbeing problems, such as feeling down, depressed, anxious or stressed. Trained counsellors are on hand at all times to moderate and facilitate the service. Big White Wall is registered with the Care Quality Commission and approved by NICE.

Big White Wall works across many different sectors, providing services to the NHS, Armed Forces, universities and many employers. 70% of users report improved wellbeing, including reduced isolation, with almost half sharing something for the first time.

Big White Wall has reached over 40,000 people to date, and is commissioned to reach thousands more. It was founded in 2007, and now operates in areas across the UK, as well as in Canada and New Zealand. For more information, go to:

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