Mental health is wealth. As Mental Health Awareness Month, May is a time to raise awareness. There has been a growing focus on the mental health of seafarers in recent years which may be largely due to the efforts of shipping companies publicly campaigning for improvements in awareness about mental health, that good mental health among employees is economically beneficial. In response to these growing concerns, Front Duke CE Dilraj Rodrigues holds conversations onboard the Engine Team in addition to the awareness of seafarers’ mental well-being on Front Duke. This included a focus on the onboard environment to make sure it is conducive to good mental health through mural painting.
In this ongoing campaign of mental health awareness by the shipping company, Front Duke’s mission to Mental Health at sea through a lifelike mural art speaks out loud in the ocean. “YOU ARE NOT ALONE” A message that builds awareness of mental health and well-being, is one of the first things that is visible when a person enters the Engine Room of the good lady, Front Duke. On the Engine room bulkhead of Front Duke, a scene unfolds: smiling seafarers, two seamen working on a merchant’s vessel, sharing and caring for each other and working happily, invite you into the blue ocean. Front Duke marks Mental Health Awareness by telling those around why you’ve joined the fight for mental health and help create a movement for change. This was made possible by the impressive thought process of CE Dilraj Rodrigues alongside the supportive Engine Room Team and the creative mind of Mohan Prasad.
Ganesan Mohan Prasad, a Marine Electrical Engineer (ETO) by profession and passionate about his hobby as an artist loves the fact that there is always something more to learn in art. With no previous experience being a muralist, Mohan Prasad’s first tryst with wall art on the Engine room bulkhead. Once Mohan Prasad was signed on, he used the features of the space and created a mural around that area. Mohan Prasad says, ‘On a white backdrop, the mural is outlined in black, colours like yellow, blue, and red is used to fill in the figures’ outlines. Have used the leftover basic enamel paints that we use in ER general cosmetic maintenance, and managed to bring the required tones by mixing the basic colours. Painted using my small paint brushes which I use for small acrylic and water paintings. Though I felt it was really challenging, each and every step of progress gave me the confidence to do more and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Painted every day after my working hours and on Sunday afternoons. It took a week as a whole, spending roughly two to three hours a day. ‘ CE Dilraj says “The idea behind the mural painting was to make working on a ship more colourful. There was a need to make art available to all as a potent visual communication tool. The best way to do it was to put it on the walls of the daily working area.” ‘By bringing colour and beauty to otherwise boring walls, murals may completely change a working area. Ship walls are unsightly and sometimes go overlooked. But by adding murals, we may completely change places that were formerly drab or depressing.’
Mental Health Awareness Month is an annual event to raise awareness of the importance of mental health. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation for over two decades, this special month is the perfect time to open up a conversation about mental health and inspire action to promote positive mental health in the sailing community. You might be wondering whether one person’s efforts can really make a difference, and the answer is “yes, absolutely!”.
Every conversation you have about the importance of recognising and treating mental illness creates a ripple effect that reaches people in your circle and far beyond it. We feel that it is only right to provide as much support as possible to improve seafarers’ mental health and well-being given the sacrifices that they make to keep our global economy running. Seafarers have a relatively unique role in that they are in the workplace during both working and non-working hours with only their colleagues for the company, making them an extremely isolated working group. The mural art ‘You Are Not Alone’ is an ideal souvenir in support of mental well-being in sailing environments.
by Sapna Noronha