TYS Recruitment

What Happens to Crew When They Have a Mental Health Dip at Sea? 

Today, we have decided to address something SO important that is often overlooked in the yachting industry: mental health. While the yachting industry can look luxurious and adventurous through the eyes of Instagram and TikTok, beneath the surface, there often lie complexities that are more turbulent than the waves these yachts travel on themselves. 

Frequently, ‘mental health’ is thought only to apply when someone is experiencing a condition such as addiction, anxiety or depression. As we recently posted on our Instagram page, mental health is JUST as important as physical health. Like physical health, we need to work on it actively, and it oscillates between good times and bad times for everyone. 

As a team of ex-yachting professionals, I can say that we have all felt isolated at times during our careers. But in reality, almost 50% of yacht crew feel isolated.

We turned to one of our recruiters, Chloe, for advice on how a crew member can practically (and realistically) implement procedures to look after their mental health onboard. Chloe received a Bachelor of Science (hons) in Human Kinetics and Ergonomics, with a minor in Psychology in University. She subsequently joined the yachting industry for six years, so we thought she was the perfect person to chat with! 

Here are her tips: 

(I know you’ve heard it before), But EXERCISE! 

Physical activity is So important! Interestingly enough, I wrote my dissertation on the risks associated with an active vs a sedentary lifestyle. Now, I won’t dive into a lengthy 100-page discourse here. Still, it is worth noting that all subjects who prioritised some sort of daily activity experienced enhanced mood and mental well-being and were less likely to engage in substance abuse. Subsequent research showed that exercise improves overall mood by increasing blood flow to the brain and lowering the effects of anxiety and depression. It can be something as simple as a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute stretch – it doesn’t have to be lifting weights and sweating for hours on end with cardio. However you do it, prioritising your physical health is crucial, and no one has ever finished a workout and thought, ‘I wish I didn’t do that!’. 

Don’t Forget Your Own Self-Care

I can’t stress this enough! Allocating some time in your cabin for solitude – practising a short meditation, reading a chapter of a book, enjoying a hobby such as drawing, or simply enjoying quiet time away from your phone is vital. In an industry where personal time is scarce, and your needs are frequently overlooked, dedicating just 5-minutes a day to self-care is crucial. Those 5 minutes were spent on my nightly skincare routine, accompanied by my favourite podcast (which spoke about nothing important, perfect for switching off my brain!). Even something as small as this can profoundly impact your well-being! So remember to carve out some time for yourself, even if it means chatting with your cabinmate and asking for some time in the cabin alone.  

Remember, a Work-Life Balance

The industry demands long working hours and constant availability to meet guests’ needs. This can blur the boundaries between work and personal life – and often people feel like they get into a cycle of “work, sleep, work, sleep….” I always believe in prioritising sleeping when needed, but taking the time to write in a journal, call the family, or get 5 minutes of sun is huge (don’t even get me started on the benefits of vitamin D as an interior or galley member!) A friend on one of the busiest boats I worked on ordered me a 5-minute journal linked HERE, which helped me put daily life into perspective, and I still use it today! 

Do your own Due Diligence

The awareness surrounding mental health onboard is growing, with many vessels actively engaging in ways to support crew members in managing their mental well-being. However, as this is a relatively new topic in the industry, some yachts may not offer such support yet. It is essential to prioritise your well-being and explore the resources available to you. There are many articles that can help you, as well as crew agents and management companies. Other resources, such as leadership or mental health first aid courses, may be helpful, like the Mental Health First Aid course offered by MHFA England, which you can engage in online. The entire TYS team recently completed this course, and I can’t emphasise its value enough. In collaboration with MHFA (England), our sister company, The Yacht Stew Academy, now partners with MHFA to offer this course. If you are interested, you can sign up here (but hurry – our next day is 9 May!). 

Mental health has been a silent topic for years, haunting the industry but not quite rearing its head. In recent times, awareness has been on the rise, signalling a long overdue shift in focus. At TYS Recruitment, we believe that addressing mental health is not just a necessity but imperative. Our aim is to supply yachting professionals with the best support and advice possible! 

Behind the glamour and excitement of the industry lie long hours, strenuous work, lack of personal space and homesickness. It is important to acknowledge the emotions associated with this as valid and remember that there is always someone to talk to. Whether that be a crew member, HOD, crew agent or management – you are never alone. Remember, your well-being is paramount regardless of external pressures, so don’t forget to put yourself first. 

P.S. If you’re looking for therapy options while at sea, several members of our team have used Better Help before. As an online therapy app with options for remote phone calls or video calls, it’s a great option for yacht crew! BetterHelp has kindly offered 10% off of the 1st month of therapy!

Betterhelp.com/theyachtstew

Chloe Leo

Chloe Leo

Originally from South Africa, Chloe began her yachting career in 2018 after completing her Economics degree. After five adventurous years at sea, she has now traded the sea for land, calling Palma home. Chloe’s passion for the industry and excellent people skills shine through in all her interactions and creates a perfect blend of professionalism and relatability. Beyond work, Chloe loves outdoor activities especially golf and cycling, and she loves paying tribute to her passion for travelling.

2 thoughts on “What Happens to Crew When They Have a Mental Health Dip at Sea? ”

  1. Absolutely fantastic advice! From an experienced yachtie there is some great advice that all yacht crew could benefit from!

  2. Thank you! What a fantastic read – super helpful points and ideas here, definitely going to check out the 5 minute journal – I hadn’t heard of that previously! Looking forward to following the blog 🌸

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