在今年的世界精神卫生日，国际运输工人联盟 (ITF) 敦促运输业界利益相关者团结起来，承认优先顾及工人精神健康是集体责任。
On World Mental Health Day, the ITF is urging stakeholders across the transport sector to come together and recognize their collective responsibility in prioritizing the mental health of all workers.
The organization is calling for a collaborative approach that will synergize the existing efforts of trade unions, employers, and all relevant stakeholders including government and international agencies across the industry, to achieve a common understanding and establish a plan of action that will help to drive real and lasting change.
Workers across the transport sector have long been experiencing unparalleled levels of stress and pressure in roles which by their nature and environment make them more susceptible to mental health issues. Seafarers, long distance truckers, and some railway workers in particular are away from home for extended periods of time, meaning they are more difficult to reach and for them to reach out themselves. Limited access to services, information, communication, family and friends contributes to a compromised mental health. Additionally, the stigma that surrounds mental health in the transport sector can often make it difficult for workers to address their issues and seek support.
These relentless challenges have only been exacerbated by the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Transport workers are facing very real concerns around salary cuts, job loss, sickness, and extended periods of isolation. The increased anxiety is likely contributing to increased psychological distress and therefore an increased risk of developing mental health problems. The ITF are calling for more to be done, and fast.
The ITF believe that the need for all stakeholders to consolidate their individual learnings and take direct action is becoming increasingly obvious. Reports illustrate the harsh reality that many across the maritime industry are struggling with their day-to-day activities. In 2019, long before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ITF Seafarers Section and ITF Seafarers’ Trust commissioned Yale University of medicine to conduct a study on, “Mental Health and Risk Factors in Seafarers”. According to the study, prevalence of depression and anxiety among the surveyed seafarers was 25% and 17%, respectively. There is no doubt that the past 18 months will have increased these shocking statistics.
While for some employers across the maritime industry tackling the challenge of mental health can seem like a daunting task, the ITF are resolute in their assertion that the time is now to take collective action. Transport workers cannot wait any longer for a better and more consistent approach to mental health support, particularly as we continue to deal with the aftershocks of the pandemic.
The ITF recognises the mental health crisis across the transport sector and continues to develop and implement initiatives via its global Wellbeing Programme, aimed at increasing awareness, providing support, and initiating change. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, life for the seafaring community has been extremely challenging, making the continued support of the Programme all the more important.
To respond to the specific conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the ITF launched its innovative ‘Reflect, Recognize, and Reach out’ digital campaign. The campaign utilizes social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share information, advice, and support on managing stress, depression, and other mental health issues. Based on three core pillars, the campaign encourages seafarers to reflect on the challenges being faced and the effects on their mental health so they could be addressed, recognize the early signs and symptoms of stress to mitigate the effects, and ultimately reach out to get support, while signposting to services and other sources of support.
Other long-standing initiatives offered by the Programme include the provision of training and technical support to ITF affiliates to enable their members access to high quality 24/7 tele-counselling on a range of wellbeing issues, including mental health.
展望美好将来Looking to a brighter future
The ITF believe that while mental health support is slowly improving across the transport sector, accelerated change is needed to prevent further damage to the workforce.
At present, stakeholders are considering the issues surrounding mental health individually, which is preventing significant action. To find a better way forward, the ITF calls for a three-stage approach. Firstly, that all relevant stakeholders, including unions, employers and government agencies reach a common understanding of the issues surrounding mental health. Secondly, that they recognise their joint responsibility and create a synergy between the existing efforts of stakeholders. Then thirdly, that they launch a collaborative endeavour whereby all stakeholders come together to develop programmes and initiatives to make real and lasting change.
The ITF believe that this approach would evolve against the backdrop of all stakeholders involved identifying mental health fundamentally as a workplace issue firmly intertwined with the nature of the roles and environment of the transport industry.