Many Shipping Jobs Available! Register and apply now.

Columbia Shipmanagement supporting traumatized seafarers

Mark O'Neil, President and CEO, Columbia Shipmanagement

Seafarers and their families affected by the Ukrainian crisis are offered mental support and counselling

Being displaced from home due to conflict is stressful and traumatic for people. Since the start of the Ukraine crisis on 24 February 2022, the United Nations estimates that about 11 million people in Ukraine have fled the country.

To help seafarers and their families affected by the conflict, Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM) raised €1.4 million and rallied 320 psychologists, who are mostly Ukrainian, to counsel and help the affected people find a modicum of peace.

Supports in place for all-rounded wellbeing
The team of psychologists were brought together by Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS), a provider of professional mental health support to the maritime sector. They are partners of CSM in the cause of supporting seafarer families who are suffering from the backlash of the conflict.

CSM has also set up a Columbia and Clients Charitable Fund, which will help provide accommodation, in addition to mental support, at designated ‘Columbia Sanctuaries’ in Poland and Romania. At present, CSM has established safehouses in both countries. It acts as a holding area for seafarers and their families while waiting for their entry visas and immigration procedures to be approved and processed by authorities.

In these sanctuaries, seafarers and their families will be able to live peacefully for up to six months and be fully supported with provisions of food, accommodation and clothing, as well as psychological support. According to CSM President and CEO Mark O’Neil, this initiative had been brought to life with the purpose of supporting all affected seafarers and their families, “I have said from the start, it is all about the victims of the conflict, whether they are Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian or Filipino, it doesn’t matter. They are the victims. The guiding principle was that the fund should not be bureaucratic as we wanted to put cash in the hands of those who needed cash without having to constantly reconcile the money.”

Besides the two safehouses in Poland and Romania, CSM also has two other meetup points for affected seafarers and their families – one in Russia and the other in Ukraine. These meetup points exist to support seafarers in times of need, whether financially or if they are seeking asylum.

Another consideration for CSM was the long-term effects of the conflict, and what could be done to help seafarers get back to their feet and regain their lives. Mental health support was their answer, and this decision was lauded by Clinical Psychologist and CEO of Mental Health Support Solutions Charles Watkins, “War torn families not only need financial aid but also psychological support because these normal and abnormal psychological reactions to traumatic events can impact for many years. The quicker people receive professional support the better.”


Crewing Online Media Team
Please email us at to contact the author for this article.

crewing online