Focused on first response, frontlining on mental health
ICMA is at the forefront in responding to piracy.Â ICMA’s members focus on professional first response.Â But ICMA’s contribution is set to go beyond the first response to piracy, to participation in the academic debate on mental health.
Two years ago, the Seamenâ€™s Church Institute of New York and New Jersey (SCI) appointed Clinical Researcher, Dr. Michael Stuart Garfinkle, to head its Piracy Trauma Study. The SCI initiative was groundbreaking. When SCI took this initiave in response to ICMA’s 2008 Resolution on Piracy, very little else was being done.Â Since then, the maritime industry and the seafarers welfare sector has come together in response to piracy as never before on any other issue.Â On the SCI website, Dr. Garfinkle writes:
…the Maritime Piracy – Humanitarian Response Program (MPHRP)…headed by Mr. Peter Swift and advised by major partners in the maritime industry, as well as an advisory board that includes mental health, pastoral care and maritime professionals, … represents an important force in advancing the cause of protecting the emotional well being of men and women at sea. Their guide, which complements SCIâ€™s (Post-Piracy Care for Seafarers Guidelines v3.0),… has already become an important resource for planning, assessing and caring for those who may be or have been affected by piracy. SCI commends them on their good work and looks forward to further collaboration.
Dr. Garfinkle took part in the workshop of health professionals which informed the MPHRP advisory board on mental health.Â He adds:
SCIâ€™s study on the psychological impact of piracy on seafarers will be formally presented at the annual meeting of the International Congress of Psychology in Cape Town, South Africa in late July 2012.
Garfinkle says that the SCI-study is ongoing and invited people affected by piracy to participate in the research.
SCI continues to interview seafarers impacted by piracy to learn from their individual stories about what helped and hindered their recovery. Anyone wishing to share piracy experiences on a confidential basis should contact me by telephone at
or by email at
ICMA’s members are in the frontline in addressing piracy.Â Our contribution, while focused on first response, will eventually also inform the pool of academic knowledge on mental health.Â We are, as ever, committed to the professional care of seafarers.