Superyachting on verge of ‘mental health crisis’


The superyacht sector is on the verge of a mental health crisis, according to new research conducted by Quay Crew in partnership with Mental Health Support Solutions (MHSS). 

The research revealed over half of superyacht crew believe their mental health has deteriorated since they began working within the sector. Whilst one in five currently suffer with poor mental health whilst onboard.

Crew members across all departments (interior, galley, deck and engineering) suffer mostly from stress, anxiety and loneliness caused by burnout and fatigue, crew tension and politics, and poor sleep. As a result, almost 50% have considered leaving the yachting sector, the report said.

Mental health concerns are more prevalent among female crew and particularly common in the interior and galley departments. The research also appears to show a correlation between the length of time someone has worked in the yachting industry, the amount of leave a crew member gets and their state of mind.

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. 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,” said Clarke.

The survey found that 62% of respondents claim they are not aware of any policies or practices to address mental health issues, but almost three quarters saying they would like access to dedicated support and resources.

Charles Watkins, clinical psychologist and managing director of MHSS, which provides professional mental health support across the maritime sector, said: “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.”

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

“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.”