Today Nicola from ISWAN, an ex yacht stewardess worked on Superyachts for a number of years tells us about her experience with Mental Health at Sea and what she has done after leaving the industry.
Mental Health At Sea: What It Really Means To Me…
Anyone who knows me will know I’m a ‘glass half full’ type of person. I always trying to see the positives in situations and live life with a smile. During my time at sea, in later years when I had additional responsibility. I too had days where I struggled to cope. Stepping up too soon, I found myself leaving a yacht mid-season (cardinal sin, I know!) to protect my wellbeing. Despite having a supportive crew on board, I was always anxious and often in tears. On reflection I could have done with additional support.
A few years back I was at a conference in London. I was drawn to the results of the Superyacht Crew Welfare Report conducted by ISWAN (The International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network). But more specifically to ISWAN itself and the work they were doing within the maritime world.
What is ISWAN?
At the time ISWAN, a charity which runs a 24/7 helpline and has traditionally supported commercial seafarers, were reporting an increase in calls from superyacht crew – I was baffled as I had never even heard of the organisation. I did my research and found out how I could get involved to help push this out to our industry. Several others from across the yachting world had a similar view to me and we joined forces with ISWAN to share ideas and actions.
Over time, the steering committee has grown to include more fantastic key players within the yachting world. As a result; Yacht Crew Help launched at the end of 2020.
Yacht Crew Help is still a part of ISWAN but now solely focuses on supporting those on yachts. They offer a 24/7 helpline, which is free, confidential, and manned by trained professionals, they can also signpost crew to additional help if needed. They are there to assist with any issues which may be affecting your life at sea. Bullying, substance misuse, job concerns, the list goes on you name it they can help. They also offer free resources online and training to those at management level interested in recognising the signs of mental health problems on board.
What does the ACrew Award have to do with this?!
Very kindly I was nominated recently for an ACrew Award, in the category of Duty of Care for my work around mental health and Yacht Crew Help. Initially I had planned to reject the nomination – firstly, because I don’t consider myself to be an active crew member on board anymore, but more importantly because there have been a whole committee of exceptional people along with ISWAN, not just me, who have helped push Yacht Crew Help out to our industry.
However, with ACrew having such a wide reach within the yachting world, I realised this would be the most perfect opportunity to continue the work we have started, give Yacht Crew Help even more publicity and reach those crew members who have not yet heard about the help available. I therefore encourage every Captain, HOD or junior crew member to look at the website, www.yachtcrewhelp.com, spread the word to fellow crew members and help us reach every person in the industry.
At the time of writing, I am the only nominee for this award. If it stays that way and I beat the competition(!), this win will be for Yacht Crew Help and for every crew member they have helped so far. So, that’s what the award really means to me. It’s more than just recognition or a title. It is chance to shout about Crew Help and potentially save a life.
Yacht Crew Help is a charity organisation which relies on donations to continue. If you would like to donate, please visit: justgiving.com/campaign/yachtcrewhelp.
For more information on ISWAN click here.