Christian Ayerst, who is due to take up his position as CEO of Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS) on December 1, says he hopes to help make mental health a ‘lasting conversation’ in the maritime sector.
Mr Ayerst left his position as a senior lawyer with shipowner Stolt-Nielsen in Rotterdam to take on the role with the ambitious vision of truly making a difference to the lives of employees working in the shipping industry.
“It is vital we don’t just pay lip service to the term mental health. We must ensure it becomes a lasting conversation, even as we look ahead to vaccine hopes to push us out of this global pandemic,” he explained.
“As we all hope that COVID-19 will become a distant memory next year, we must ensure that mental health of our employees remains at the forefronts of our minds, and offer real solutions for companies to create happy, safe and supportive working environments.”
As well having a substantial background in shipping law, Mr Ayerst has a wealth of knowledge in the technology sector, having set up his own online app helping to connect jobseekers and companies through one-minute videos.
He also served many years as a volunteer police officer, which he believes gave him valuable insight into mental health issues and saw him meeting people from all different walks of life.
MHSS offers a range of platforms to individuals and companies to help people maintain a healthy mind while working in the maritime industry, through tailored training, a 24/7 helpline to help those in need, and by holding conferences, seminars and round table discussions on mental health
On his career change, Mr Ayerst said: “I’m proud to be leaving an established ship owner and joining a growing company which places the mental health and wellbeing of staff first.
“At MHSS we will work tirelessly to make a real difference to the lives of those in this industry and make quality mental health and wellbeing support accessible to everyone. MHSS will make taking care of mental health and wellbeing the responsibility of everyone.
“We will equip those we help with the tools they need to relate, recognise and repair issues they see in themselves and others. We are proud to be loud about mental health and wellbeing - and inspire others to do the same.”