Mental health has become widely talked about worldwide in recent years – many businesses have implemented policies and / or training including our own. Within the past few years, we have added a free (and confidential) Employee Assistance Program, which employees and their families can access at any time, along with other support tools such as mental health first aid training and dedicated wellbeing hours to be taken at any time for any person struggling.
Within the yachting community, the talk around mental health has also increased. For an industry where people are working away from their families, often for long and stressful periods in confined spaces, this is of particular importance, especially given the recent situations some crew have found themselves in during the pandemic. We have all sadly heard and seen of recent incidents where crew have found it all too much to take and rightly so we look to not just talk about mental health but put actions into place as well.
So, in 2022 what practical help exists out there for our crew?
Yacht Crew Help
A few years ago we were lucky enough to become involved with ISWAN, helping them launch their dedicated service for yacht crew – Yacht Crew Help. This is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline available to all crew, available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. With trained professionals on the other end of the phone and links to many organisations, they are there to listen, guide and signpost crew for further help where needed. In the first year alone, Yacht Crew Help received almost 500 calls and messages, with common issues including psychological health and wellbeing, contractual issues, unemployment struggles and problems with bullying and harassment.
As well as the helpline, Yacht Crew Help also has free resources available on the website, www.yachtcrewhelp.com including ISWAN’s Good Mental Health Guides and also offers an online course, Maritime Mental Health Awareness Training, which is aimed at those at management level and takes place over two half days.
Nautilus – Health Assured
For those crew who are already signed up or thinking about joining Nautilus, in 2021 they added an extra benefit to their membership, specifically in relation to mental health advice – Health Assured.
Similar to Yacht Crew Help, all members have access to 24/7 support to a helpline which is run by medically qualified counsellors. For longer term support, they also have access to the My Healthy Advantage app, which provides access to a number of learning materials, resources and articles. It also includes a weekly mood tracker as well as four week plans on many healthy living areas such as exercise, losing weight or stopping smoking.
RJ8 is aimed at Captains and / or management companies looking to bring in a yacht wide mental health care policy for crew. Signing up to this paid annual service gives all crew on board access to a 24/7 helpline with up to 8 sessions of face to face, telephone or online counselling / CBT per year. They have trained counsellors and psychotherapists in 160 countries and the advice / counselling extends to family members, covering not only help with mental health but legal and financial guidance.
As well as the helpline, RJ8 also offers mental health awareness training as an extra service, which could be particularly useful to those in more senior positions on board.
With countless yachts worldwide already using the services of MedAire, many have also opted for their emotional support add-on. This is another great programme which gives crew confidential and immediate access to support, (the service is 24/7) without needing to seek any approval from the Captain.
It allows crew to talk directly to trained counsellors, who may in turn suggest further treatment plans. Similarly to other services, support also extends to the crew member’s family and can be conducted online or in person, depending on the location and offers up to five support sessions per incident, per year along with unlimited phone consultations for Managers / Captain. This is available in 60+ languages, so that crew can receive assistance in the language they are most comfortable speaking.
It is fantastic to see these support services growing, now we all have a responsibility to ensure that every single crew member is aware of what is out there for them, especially for the newcomers to the industry.
We are always interested in hearing of other services available in our industry to help with crew wellbeing. Have we missed any? Feel free to contact Nicola@wilsonhalligan.com to discuss further.
Yacht Crew Help is operated by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), a not-for-profit organisation which relies on funding and donations to continue the helpline. If you are interested in donating, please visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/yachtcrewhelp