Seafarers’ work in vessels at sea is one of the hardest,
most demanding and under any difficult conditions
profession. Seafarers often work for very long hours,
far from their relatives, isolated in a multicultural,
highly hierarchised micro-society. Studies also have
shown that bullying is an often phenomenon on ships.
This situation often generates mental health problems
[6], which put at risks lives, the vessel, passengers,
cargo, the environment from pollution and local
coastal economies.
The description above was a main reason to start
the Erasmus+ project called PROMETHEAS
(PROmoting MEnTal HEAlth at Sea). The consortium
consists of 6 partners from 5 countries. The leader is
the Maritime University of Szczecin, Poland. The
other partners are:
IDEC SA (Greece)
Chios Marine Club (Greece)
Spinaker d.o.o. (Slovenia)
Technical University of Catalunya (Spain)
Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (Finland)
Centre for Factories of the Future Limited (United
The project is financed by EU under Erasmus+
Duration: 1st November 2019 31st August 2022.
Figure 1. Erasmus+ logo
The central aim of this project is to develop a
training course and learning resources for seafarers
and maritime workers concerning the preservation
and improvement of their mental health. It is focused
on the various issues that derive from mental health
problems and tries to provide learners with necessary
information and consultation on how to deal with
these problems.
Mental Health Surveillance Tools for Sea Workers
M. Dramski
, H. Koivisto
, T. Gregorič
, G. de Melo Rodríguez
, A. Chronopoulos
& R. Ziarati
Maritime University of Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland
Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Pori, Finland
Spinaker d. o.o., Portoroz, Slovenia
Technical University of Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
IDEC SA, Piraeus, Greece
Centre for Factories of the Future Ltd, Coventry, United Kingdom
ABSTRACT: This article presents the results of the works of the PROMETHEAS project, which focuses on the
mental health of sea workers. This project is carried out at the Maritime University of Szczecin and brings
together a consortium of various maritime institutions from Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Finland and Great Britain.
PROMETHEAS aims to provide tools for assessing the mental health of sea workers that can be used by
professionals and stakeholders alike. The most important ones will include an application for mobile systems
(Android, iOS) and an online and offline e-learning course.
the International Journal
on Marine Navigation
and Safety of Sea Transportation
Volume 16
Number 1
March 2022
DOI: 10.12716/1001.16.01.13
Main target groups of PROMETHEAS project are
captains of merchant navy, seafarers and cadets,
whilst additional beneficiaries are the trainers on
mental health and bullying, VET centres and
consultants of the sector as well as nautical academies,
universities and shipping companies.
PROMETHEAS will produce three core intellectual
outputs (the products):
Repository of resources on mental health for
maritime staff
E-learning course for captains and seafarers
Digital app for self-evaluation (Android)
The listed project results will be available for free
to all interested parties for a period of at least five
years from the project end date. This is in line with the
principles of the Erasmus + program. The work so far
has shown that the project has strengths in the form
raises issues relevant to the industry
The consortium was flexible about the COVID-19
So far, after the evaluation of the first interim
report, no weaknesses of the project have been found.
Figure 2. PROMETHEAS project logo
2.1 What is workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is abusive behaviour that takes
the form of verbal abuse, threats, humiliation or
intimidation, or in the form of interference in the
work that prevents the harassed from completing
their work. Similar to the schoolyard, workplace
bullying often begins when one person begins to
annoy another and encourages others to join. The
workplace harasser can be a manager, a co-worker, a
salesperson or even a customer or friend.
2.2 Legal aspects and protection
Unfortunately, in many countries there are no legal
regulations that would deal with the problem of
mobbing and bullying. Mutual relations between
people, however, sometimes cross certain boundaries,
and in many cases it is noticed. It is worth observing
that even if there is no law on this issue, it does not
mean that the victim is always vulnerable.
Workplace harassment is illegal when it violates
federal laws or laws that prohibit discrimination and
violence in the workplace. These laws protect
employees from harassment based on religious, racial,
or sexual characteristics, such as colour, national
origin, religion, sex, age, or disability.
If someone is harassing the other in the workplace
and the reason for the harassment is a characteristic
protected by law [8], this could be classified as
unlawful workplace harassment.
2.3 Bullying example
Take for example the company ABC where the
manager is named Juan. Juan, is Maria's manager and
teases and teases her constantly, calling her
"incompetent", "stupid" and "lazy". If these comments
are based on Carla's gender, the harassment could be
illegal. That is, if Juan constantly says things like: "I
know that women are not that smart, but you really
are the champion." In most countries, this
intimidation could be illegal harassment, as it is
discrimination based on Maria's sex. Or if Juan, even if
he doesn't specifically say the word "woman" in his
comments, but he harasses all the women, but none of
the men. Similarly, it could be considered illegal
harassment, based on sex discrimination.
However, if Juan's comments have no link to the
person's gender, that is, if he harassed all of his
employees, regardless of his sexual gender, his actions
are probably not illegal.
2.4 Definition
While there is no universally accepted formal
definition of workplace bullying, and some
researchers even question whether a uniform
definition is possible due to its complex and
multifaceted forms, several researchers have struggled
to define it:
According to Olweus's [5] widely used definition,
“Workplace bullying is a situation in which one or
more people systematically and over a long period of
time find themselves on the receiving end of negative
treatment by one or more people, in a situation in
which people exposed to treatment have difficulties to
defend themselves against this treatment.”
According to Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf and Cooper [2],
“Workplace harassment means to harass, offend,
socially exclude, or negatively affect someone's work
tasks. For the bullying (or harassment) label to apply
to a particular activity, interaction or process has to
occur repeatedly and regularly (for example, weekly)
and over a certain period of time. Bullying is an
escalating process in the course of which the person
confronted ends up in an inferior position and
becomes the target of systematic negative social acts.”
2.5 Characteristics
Because it can occur in a variety of contexts and forms,
it is also helpful to define workplace bullying by the
key characteristics these behaviours possess. Work
bullying is characterized by:
Repetition (occurs regularly)
Duration (is durable)
Scalable (increasing aggression)
Power disparity (the target lacks the power to
defend itself successfully)
Attributed intent
Thus, the above factors that characterize workplace
bullying seem obvious. On this basis, it can be
concluded that this undesirable phenomenon is
similar to what occurs in schools, academies, etc.
2.6 What to do?
Dealing with workplace bullying should be one of the
tasks of Human Resource Management. Even if the
law is not violated, maintaining a good atmosphere is
in the interest of the employer and employees.
Mobbing, bullying, etc. also lead to lower work
efficiency, which in turn can affect even the entire
organization. Each case should be recorded and
appropriate measures must be taken to eliminate these
undesirable phenomena in the future.
3.1 Partner meetings
Partnership meetings are aimed at controlling project
management. There will be one meeting per country.
The first took place in November 2019 in Greece at the
beginning of the project. Unfortunately, due to the
COVID-19 epidemic, the meeting in the United
Kingdom was held online (June 2020). The remaining
meetings are planned in a traditional way, but in the
current epidemic situation it is difficult to predict
whether they will be held remotely.
3.2 Short-time training
This event was supposed to take place in April 2020 in
Pori (Finland) but due to the COVID-19 epidemic it
was conducted online in December of the same year.
Project participants took part in training in the field of
mental health problems.
During the training, various situations and
scenarios related to mental health problems were
discussed. In connection with the subject of the
project, special attention was paid to the phenomenon
of bullying and mobbing in the environment of sea
workers. Materials, conclusions and comments will be
used to build an e-learning course and a mobile
application (intellectual outputs).
3.3 Multiplier events
These events will take place in mid-2022 and will aim
to disseminate the results of the PROMETHEAS
project. So at this moment there is nothing to add.
Multiplier events are typical for the Erasmus+
3.4 Repository of resources on mental health for marine
This is the first intellectual output of the project which
will be called O1. According to findings of research
conducted in many places of the globe by universities
as well as by renowned organizations demonstrate
Mental health of seafarers bears a high pressure
which is hazardous for their health, their life, their
colleagues lives, passengers’ lives in the case of
passenger ships, ships they work in, ship cargo, the
environment, coastal economies. Reasons
producing stress on seafarers’ mental health may
be organizational, personal and/or due to other
There is extensive bullying taking place in ships.
Victims of bullying are often green feet” cadets,
women who may reject their career in ships for this
reason or crew members from developing
countries lacking in many cases even the simplest
tools of communication, a common language.
Victims of bullying do not know how to react and
very seldom refer to the captain or the company
the tortures they suffer.
Although these conclusions of research are rather
recent, there are already scarce pieces of resources,
such as leaflets with information or even scientific
papers on these issues, their causes and ways to
mitigate results, which could be of help to persons
facing analogous problems.
The aim of O1 is to search and find these resources,
classify them in a rational and easy to find way as well
as to develop simple infographics and two leaflets,
one for mental health at sea and one with instructions
how to behave to stop bullying.
At the time of publishing this article, O1 is
complete, but new items can still be added to it.
3.5 E-learning course for captains and seafarers
This intellectual outputs is called O2 and refers to the
e-learning content. This course is currently developed
and consists of two units:
Improving mental health
Facing bullying
In each of these units there will be two distinctive
parts, one for seafarers in general and an additional
one for captains (containing both stress factors specific