Quay Crew announces partnership with mental health support provider MHSS
Tim Clarke, director at Quay Crew, discusses the partnership and how more action is needed across the industry…
Superyacht crew are not operating with a surplus of mental resilience during a busy season. Destabilising an already hectic schedule with the COVID pandemic has pressurised the system further. The evidence that this has had a detrimental effect on crew mental health is transitioning from purely anecdotal to data supported. The strengthening of support networks is welcome.
Quay crew has agreed a partnership with Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS), an organisation comprising qualified clinical psychologists who specialise in supporting seafarers and the maritime industry. As part of the collaboration, MHSS and Quay Crew will jointly commit to delivering a programme of free educational webinars and content that supports management companies, captains and heads of departments in helping crew improve their mental health.
SuperyachtNews speaks with Tim Clarke, director at Quay Crew, about why the time was right for this collaboration. “Anecdotal evidence from conversations with Captains, HODs and hundreds of superyacht crew has highlighted just how many people on board suffer from poor mental health. So, we are delighted to be able to give our placed crew access to this service, delivered by qualified psychologists”, as Clarke continues; “However, our commitment is just a drop in the ocean, and as a sector, we are lagging way behind on the support we provide our crew. We must do more to ensure they have access to the help they need."
The complications of the pandemic have exposed existing fault lines in the support structure for crew welfare. Still, as Clarke explains, the industry should be honest in its reflections on systemic issues: “There are huge numbers of mental health issues on board superyachts, there have been multiple suicides over the last few years, some publicised, some not. The industry has a drug and alcohol problem, and this is, in part, fueling the mental health crisis.”
Mental health is often only addressed once it has escalated to a more serious issue. Preemptive education and resilience training can elevate this tenancy and add to the tool kit at a crew members disposal. According to Clarke, online events will be a part of the collaboration, focusing on common causes of stress, anxiety, and depression, including dealing with or avoiding burnout, conflict resolution, bullying and harassment and substance abuse. The companies have also launched an industry-specific mental health survey to gather data that aims to highlight the most critical mental health concerns of crew. “We will work with MHSS to uncover critical mental health data from the industry and encourage yacht owners, management companies and Captains to see the benefits of making support services available to all crew.”
Thankfully, there are more options available for 3rd party support for crew, and Clarke sees the unique demands of the superyacht industry require specialist attention. “One of the strengths we saw in MHSS is that when you connect with them, you will not be speaking to a volunteer, it will be with a fully qualified clinical psychologist; someone with real experience in similar issues across the marine industry” offers support to about one hundred thousand commercial seafarers around the world. There are 18 languages spoken by psychologists so far, who are available 24 hours a day. So in theory, they've got the ability to cope with the vast majority of requirements from the marine industry.”
This support service is available for all crew currently placed by Quay Crew, and should hopefully present another pressure relief valve for the crew who have borne the brunt of a stressful 18months.
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