Poor leadership part of ongoing mental health issues in crew


Poor leadership is being cited as one of the key reasons behind ongoing mental health issues in superyacht crews, according to a study by Quay Crew. 

The recruitment agency found that while about 5% more yachts have mental health policies and practices on board compared with a similar study in 2021, the overall mood of almost 900 crew who responded was down from 7/10 to 6.5/10.  

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More than half of the respondents said better leadership would be “most beneficial” in improving mental health, with interior and galley crew suffering the most. 

Other contributors to poor mental health remain burnout and fatigue, crew tension and politics and poor sleep. 

“Comments from respondents suggest that something as simple as adhering to hours of rest would be hugely beneficial, as would improving leadership,” said Tim Clarke, director, Quay Crew.

“When asked what four things would help to improve mental health onboard the most, better leadership, mental health training and awareness, better leave and more downtime/adherence to hours of rest were cited in that order.  

 “There’s also a lot to be said about setting realistic expectations from the outset; ensuring incoming crew are fully aware of the high-pressure environment, and accepting that sometimes, it’s just not a suitable career choice for some people.” 

‘A level of pressure’

The study found stews and chefs “suffer most from stress and anxiety”, with low morale and claims of bullying and harassment 10% higher than other departments. 

Overall, only three-fifths of respondents said they have enough support if they are experiencing mental health issues, with just 14% and 7% respectively saying they would approach their captain or HOD. 

“The increased existence of poor mental health within the interior department is, unfortunately, not surprising, but must be addressed,” said Caroline Clarke-Jack, director and interior consultant at Quay Crew.

“Given the regular interaction and face-time with owners and guests, the front-of-house element of many interior tasks can cause a level of pressure not necessarily experienced in other roles. A lot can also be said about the limited opportunities to get out on deck and simply get some fresh air sometimes. 

“Having said that, there is simply no excuse for such a significant presence of bullying and harassment, discrimination, and crew tension in the interior.”