The Islander – December 2020< Back
This year has seen a lot of work being done within the maritime industry to support seafarer’s mental health. Driven by the Maritime Charities Group (MCG) the MNTB have agreed standards to certify crew in ‘Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Training’, and in November we saw the launch of the maritime charity ISWAN’s 24 hour support hotline specifically for Superyacht Crew called ‘YachtCrewHelp.org’, funded by the industry for the industry.
It has long been recognised that whether at sea or ashore we need to manage our health, and more recently the importance of our mental health too. When we are in good physical health we have the fitness and vitality to be active and get things done. Just as good mental health brings feelings of being well balanced and positive, enabling us to cope well with day to day events. Similarly, just as physical ill health can vary in severity from the inconvenience of a common cold to the something far more serious and life threatening, mental ill health can vary from feeling overly stressed to an all-consuming depression that is potentially life threatening.
The causes of mental health problems vary hugely from individual to individual, although commonly reported issues include bullying, harassment, stress, over work, fatigue and problems at home. As a leader you need to be alert to the mood of your crew and observant of the quality of the relationships on board. For example, has what started out as a bit of light banter between crew gone too far for one of them? Are you aware its going on and are you able to check in with them? Do you have regular 1:1s scheduled in? When you are busy these things are easy to overlook or let slide. However, these simple but valuable leadership actions may prevent a situation spiralling into a serious mental health issue for a member of your crew.
Dealing with mental health early is key. Do your crew know where to turn to for help? Has your yacht signed up to medical insurance which includes mental health? Now YachtCrewHelp.org offers another place for crew to access help and support early, from someone to talk to in confidence, to information and self-help.
Creating a culture that values the mental health of the crew means being observant and taking notice of crew who appear unusually quiet, withdrawn or unusually bad tempered. In other words, has their behaviour changed from what is their ‘normal’. Most importantly, make sure that there is a well-established practice on board of regular 1:1s, beginning with the Captain and Heads of Department, cascading to their teams, so that everyone on board has the chance to be seen and heard. When you ask the question ‘how are you?’, take time to really listen to the answer.
It is the aspiration of ISWAN and their supporters that every Superyacht crew member knows the website ‘YachtCrewHelp.org’, what can you do to help on board your yacht to bring the subject on the table.
Impact Crew offers a range of workshops on board and virtually, from developing leadership capability, to partnering with Red Square Medical to deliver mental health training including our all crew ‘Stress Happens’ workshop. Give us a call to discuss how we can help.