Thousands of miles away and far from loved ones, seafarers can find themselves fighting loneliness. Researchers at the University of Chicago have claimed that the effects of separation and solitude can be as harmful to one’s health as cigarette smoking and obesity. The feeling of isolation that can occur, perhaps through being part of a multi-national crew or through lack of opportunities for socialising can not only cause depression but also social isolation increases blood pressure and stress levels and diminishes our willpower and perseverance.
An unintended aspect of modern technology is that the internet and the various social media platforms may actually make life on board less social. There appears to be an increasing trend for crew to retreat behind closed cabin doors but interacting with devices alone in a cabin deprives the seafarer of real human contact. Further, whilst technology should be making life easier by enabling easy access to home, it can instead be detrimental as knowing about issues at home, but unable to readily assist, can cause additional anxiety.
Women at Sea
It is estimated that up to 2% of seafarers are women and this often means being the only female on board. Being accepted by an otherwise male dominated crew can take time, and even then being at sea for months can be hard without someone of your own gender to talk to. The article below, published in Marine Insight in October 2017, highlights some of the problems faced by women seafarers, but also how one woman overcomes them and ultimately enjoys a demanding and rewarding career:
Additional North resources: Article on Social Dynamics, Technology and Increased Isolation