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Fishermen Wellness: Therapy

Therapy? Are you kidding?

What’s in it for me?

Greg A Marley, LCSW

Clinical Director, NAMI Maine


Everyone needs help occasionally and being OK asking for help is a good measure of a man. Yeah, I know, we hate asking for directions and we hate to ask for help. But if your radar or your depth gauge goes wonky, you will reach out for a consult to get it fixed; your livelihood and the safety of your boat depend on it.

My life was going a bit wonky when I was 28 and I sought some consultation. Sure, I was working, I was making my way, but my behavior was causing me and those I loved some pain. Like most men, I probably waited too long before making the call, but the things I learned about myself and the old habits I needed to unlearn, tweaked my attitude and helped me deal with life’s stresses in a way that spread good cheer rather than pain. It helped me make some changes that I still benefit from 30 years later.

What are the signs that you might benefit from that consultation we call therapy?

  • Sometimes it is how we act; is your mood dark or down and are you having trouble getting the energy up to get the job done?

  • Are you struggling with sleep and has your appetite changed? These are common signs of depression.

  • Are you constantly worrying and cannot let it go, a common sign of anxiety?

  • Has your use of alcohol gone up as the stresses have risen?

  • Is someone in your life who loves you worried about your mental health, your increasing use of alcohol or recreational drugs?

All these are signals that it might be time to look for some outside help. Times are rough right now and the stresses of tight money and an uncertain season ahead makes things tougher.

Therapy is available, and today, during this COVID crisis, many counselors are using computer applications to “see” their clients without them ever having to come into the office. Some men have found this makes it easier than meeting someone face to face. There is a cost involved with therapy and insurance does not always help all that much, but there is also a cost to doing nothing or putting off getting the resources you need. Without that radar you might go aground in the fog and there sure is a cost with that as well.


If you want help finding the right professional, consider asking someone you respect where they get help. Or call the NAMI Maine Helpline (622-5767 ext. 1) and speak with Fred. He can do the legwork and offer a list of names to consider. Most therapists have online profiles now so you can look them up and find one that seems like a good fit for you. Help is available and asking early is always better than running aground.

The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association has recently received a small grant and may be able to help with some fees associated with getting counseling services. We are currently working to set up this process and will be updating fishermen as soon as we can.


A note from MCFA staff: Fishermen Wellness is a new on-going series by NAMI Clinical Staff. Each week a new topic will be featured pertaining to mental health and wellness for fishermen. We hope that this information is helpful to fishermen during COVID-19 and also under regular circumstances. Thank you to the clinical staff at NAMI for their support and insight during this time. Together, we persevere.

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An industry-based nonprofit that identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine's fishing communities for future generations. 

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