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The IMRF launches its #SARyouOK? mental health initiative to raise awareness of wellbeing issues faced by those in the maritime SAR sector

The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has launched its #SARyouOK? initiative in a bid to promote awareness and further breakdown the stigma that is attached to mental health and wellbeing 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 United Kingdom’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 wellbeing at risk. It’s time we come together as a maritime SAR community to discuss how we can best tackle this issue for the benefit of all SAR professionals,” Caroline said.

According to research conducted 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 (PTSD) as that of 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 a Guidance and Best Practice framework on Implementing Mental Health and Wellbeing Practices into SAR Organisations, which will provide tangible and practical advice that SAR organisations can use to implement in their own operations.

IMRF's #SARyouOK initiative

Caption: Official artwork for the IMRF’s #SARyouOK? initiative Credit: IMRF/MSF/Francesca Mapelli

The IMRF is also planning to host an online workshop and an in-person seminar on mental health and wellbeing in 2023, as well as releasing a number of blogs, videos and podcasts, giving SAR responders and organisations the opportunity to talk about their experiences.

“I hope that this project will help address the challenges that the maritime SAR community faces when it comes to 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 wellbeing of SAR personnel is discussed and come up with some positive actions that any SAR organisation can implement,” she added.

“Seafarer wellbeing 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? Initiative using funds made available by the Department for Transport,” said Trinity House’s Deputy Master Captain Ian McNaught.
Source: IMRF

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