Due to the isolated work environment aboard ships, the presence of different job stressors, known as stress factors lead to decreased job satisfaction and mental and physical well being, thus contributing to the onset of stress which further exacerbates the problem of poor performance of duties. It is of paramount importance for seafarer to be in optimum condition at all times, such that they can respond to any emergencies on board; after all, the ship is their home.
Stress is defined as mental, emotional, or physical strain on somebody caused by anxiety, worry, tension, trauma, hassle (informal), pressure or overwork. It may cause such symptoms as raised blood pressure or depression. These state results in the person being unable to perform his duties with the usual diligence, accuracy and efficiency; in other words, the stressed person is unable to perform to his full, optimum potential.
In these circumstances stress and reduced performance can lead to environmental damage, ill health and reduced lifespan among highly skilled seafarers, who are in short supply. It is vital to take a holistic view of the effects of stress and health factors associated with long periods away from home, limited communication and consistently high workloads on seafarers.
Kenny and Cooper in their paper “Occupational Stress and Management (2003)” highlight the difference between “coping with stress” and “dealing with stress”. With regards to “coping with stress”, the individuals coping mechanism is closely tied to his personality. Because personality changes are hard to effect, the coping mechanism will be hard to change as well. They suggest instead, shifting the focus to mechanisms that help individuals deal with stress instead. Dealing with stress suggests harnessing personal resources to solve problems, while coping with stress in effect measures the reactivity of the individual when faced with the problem; solving the problem is not...