Mental Health In Our Industry

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Mental Health In Our Industry

Recent research indicates that all maritime sectors are more likely to experience mental health problems than persons ashore. 

‘Health care has historically focused on physical health. Little or no mental health assessment to determine suitability.” 

Increasing recognition of mental illness revealed that people who are affected may have been controlling this but symptoms increase when at sea. 

Superyacht crew are no exception, as young people in particular are
experiencing mental health problems with it affecting 1:4 of us . 

What is the definition of a mental illness? 

There are numerous mental health conditions with different symptoms, characterised by abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others.

Dr Robert L. Quigley MD D.Phil, from MedAire, explained how these conditions affect mood, thinking and behaviour.

Potential mental health issues facing Superyacht crew;

  • unpredictable and demanding work
  •  schedules requiring long days, short nights
  •  lack of social interaction
  •  unfamiliar crew members, alienation due to cultural differences
  •  fatigue, exhaustion

All the above are recognised as contributing isolation and loneliness.  

The Johnny Depp Foundation found that crew relationships can become dysfunctional squashed into the cramped living and working conditions.  

The sense of imprisonment is
exacerbated by:

  • cupboard sized bedrooms,
  • days with no outside world contact,
  • no social media or support network,
  • limits on physical movement,
  • a confined space to eat, sleep and work.

A large number of crew feel unable to complain, due to  the ‘Old School mentality’ of toughen up or leave. 

 Karine Rayson says  “Psychological safety is as paramount as physical safety,” she says. Pre-existing mental health conditions can increase due to bullying whether physical or verbal.  The Crew Coach highlight the need for awareness of good support for victims and  provide  crew some mandatory psycho-education otherwise ‘or we are’ failing as a seven-star industry.’

The owners of Superyacht’s are obliged to provide: “access to prompt and adequate medical care whilst working on board…….. with medical care as comparable as possible to that which is generally available to workers ashore”

Help for Yourself or Your Fellow Crew Members

So if as a crew member your thoughts or actions are interfering with
your function of daily living.


for immediate support, then a doctors appointment can be arranged as
soon as possible. 

What to out look for;

  • Nervous,
  • Clumsy,
    accident prone
  • Increased
    drinking, smoking, drug use
  • Decreased
    sleep  or eating
  • Withdrawn,
    loosing contact with friends and family
  • Loosing
    an interest in appearance
  • Joking  ‘No one loves me’, ‘Everyone is against me’

Statements such as ‘You would not believe what I have just been through’

Support or Guidance for Superyacht Crew;

  • Big White Wall  Anonymous digital help.  A small monthly subscription
  • International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) Become a member and  access 24 hour helpline
  • Mission to Seafarers, working in over 200 ports

  • Maritime Charity Sailors’ Society, in 91 ports around the world, counselling and support to those struggling with depression

Try to interact. Build relationships with other Superyacht Crew members and engage in ‘downtime activities’. 

If everyone respects each other, you become a support network and team.