Wellness Corner: Tom O’Hare, Mission to Seafarers

Tom O’Hare, Mission to Seafarers Programme Manager, feels blessed to work for an organization that understands the need to maintain a work life balance. Tom is responsible for Mission to Seafarers Wellbeing programme – WeCare, and their Family Support Network programmes in the Philippines and India.

In the maritime industry, Tom would like more open and direct conversations about suicide. Only if we could establish an environment of trust and support would people with suicidal thoughts be able to seek help without fear of being judged, Tom concludes.

SAFETY4EA: What does ‘wellness’ mean to you? What do you do in your every day life to embrace wellness?

Tom O’Hare: Wellness to me is feeling content with the everyday. Enjoying the little things and celebrating them. For example, the taste of apricot jam on my toast in the morning and the smell of pine trees when I’m walking my dog in the woods. To embrace wellness, I prioritise time for those little things.

S4S: What are the two things to do that can make you feel happy after a challenging day?

T.O.H: First, I stop what I’m doing and write down what those challenges are. Then I can put into categories and see whether they are really important. Second, I take time out and take my dog for a run.

S4S: What is the most worthwhile wellbeing investment (in energy, time, money) you’ve ever made?

T.O.H: A dog. We have a Working Cocker Spaniel. It’s a high energy breed of dog which requires a lot of time and energy however the feeling you get when it takes on a new skill or greets you at the end of a hard day is invaluable.

S4S: What do you do to keep balance between your personal and business life?

T.O.H.: I separate the two. I am blessed to work for an organization that understands the need to maintain a work life balance. As such I have a dedicated work phone, laptop, and email account. This means at the end of a day they’re switched off and put out of sight. No work ever reaches my personal phone, email account, or social media.

S4S: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your personal life?

T.O.H.: Fell Running. In 2017 I started Fell running, which is a sport most popular in the North of England and Scotland. It’s all about self-sufficiency and how your mind and body can cope with the challenges an environment throws at it. It also has a vibrant and caring community based on the values of volunteerism and camaraderie.

S4S: What would you like to change in the current maritime landscape with regards to wellbeing?

T.O.H.: I’d like to encourage open and direct conversations about suicide. As human beings we are all capable of having thoughts of suicide. Those thoughts are acceptable and acts of suicide are preventable. If we can create an environment where people are comfortable talking about suicide, we can ensure those with thoughts of suicide have a channel to support without fear of condemnation.

S4S: What wellness-promoting initiatives would you like to see in the workplace?

T.O.H: I would like all work places to have access to free in-person trainings on Suicide Alertness and Suicide Intervention Skills. I believe it should be done in-person for two reasons. Firstly, it’s safer to have real people to talk to. And two, it’s an opportunity to bond with people who may well be friends for life.

S4S: What is the one thing that you are feeling grateful at the moment?

T.O.H.: My health, my family, and everything we have that allows us to be content in our lives.

S4S: What are your hobbies/ favorite activities?

T.O.H.: As I mentioned I like to run. With my dog in woods, with my wife on a Park Run, on my own up a mountain. It’s a time to let it all go, allow thoughts to process and drift away as I focus on the rhythm of my breathing or where to place my feet.

S4S: What is your personal motto?

T.O.H.: Don’t concern yourself with time, its never fast, its never slow, just go for it.


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.


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