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Superyacht sector on verge of mental health crisis

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Superyacht sector on verge of mental health crisis

Charles Watkins, Founder and Clinical Psychologist, Mental Health Support & Solutions

The superyacht sector is steering towards a mental health crisis with one-in-five crewmembers suffering from stress, anxiety or loneliness while onboard and one in three having faced similar problems in the past, according to a new report.

Research carried out by superyacht recruitment agency Quay Crew, in partnership with Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS), also reveals a potential recruitment headache as 50% of respondents admit they have considered leaving the industry.

The ‘Mental Health Onboard: The State of the Superyacht Sector’ report is based on a survey involving­ 1,019 crewmembers who vary in age, length of service and nationality.

Mental health concerns are most prevalent among female crew, especially those working in the interior and galley. Meanwhile, 62% of all respondents say they are not aware of any policies or practices to address psychological problems.

Around nine in 10 say they have received no mental health training – something that 85% of the people questioned for the survey believe would be useful.

Of the crewmembers willing to talk openly if struggling mentally, 30% would most likely speak to their family. Others would approach a colleague (30%), the Captain (14%) or head of department (4%).

Tim Clarke, Director, Quay Crew

Tim Clarke, Director of Quay Crew, believes the findings highlight an alarming lack of mental health support for superyacht crew.

“This survey has uncovered some strong statistics that reveal just how common poor mental health is in the industry and how onboard environments often contribute,” he said. “It also confirms our suspicions that very few have access to the support they need, when they need it, especially from those who specialise in mental health.

“We hope that those with the power to make changes use these findings to introduce policies, practices and preventative measures that will support the wellbeing of crew. In turn, this will improve longevity, productivity and promote the superyacht industry as one in which people can enjoy a long and prosperous career.”

Charles Watkins, Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director of MHSS, which provides 24/7 professional mental health support across the maritime sector, said the report paints a bleak picture of the superyacht industry. “Crew are struggling mentally as they deal with myriad challenges such as long working hours, limited sleep, loneliness and a lack of mental health support while at sea.”

Mr Watkins added that without immediate action, superyacht companies will struggle to retain existing crew or attract fresh talent to the industry.

“In a worst-case scenario, the mental health crisis will create a huge skills shortage for superyacht operators. So, what can they do to prevent this potential nightmare becoming a reality? Listening to and understanding the concerns of existing crew is a start, as this gives employers the insights needed to introduce positive changes,” he said. “Providing mental health support by giving staff access to professional psychologists with maritime experience will also make a huge difference.”

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