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Health and safety

Superyacht self-care – developing a course to help crews tackle stress

15 July 2019

With mental health currently a hot topic in the superyacht industry, Nautilus strategic yacht partners Red Square Medical and Impact Crew have identified a need for training to help crew deal with the pressures of their jobs. Liz Baugh and Karen Passman explain how their new stress-management course will work

The ideal way to foster happy employees is to create a positive work environment which enables crew to work effectively and does not cause or exacerbate mental health problems. Sadly, though, the very nature of the seafaring workplace can be challenging due to location, poor connectivity, and time spent away from loved ones. So what can we do to mitigate this?

Seafarers face many pressures on a daily basis, and we recognise that stress is a growing concern within the maritime industry. Studies suggest that some stress is normal and can in fact enhance performance; however, prolonged stress can lead to physical and mental health problems, and this is what needs to be addressed.

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Liz Baugh of Red Square Medical

With increasing awareness of mental health issues, increasing cases of anxiety and suicides being reported – and following on from ISWAN's recent report on the wellbeing of superyacht crew – we came to the conclusion that prevention is better than cure. Although there is nothing new in this concept, we challenged ourselves to translate this into something tangible that crew at every level would benefit from. We also considered what would enable management ashore to support their crews afloat.

Stress Happens! is an engaging and interactive workshop that can be tailored to each company’s needs. It is designed to tap into existing knowledge for the purpose of collaborative learning and growth in a subject that has been overlooked in the past. With the course designed and facilitated by medical professionals and experts in leadership and management, we are looking to raise awareness, and with that address this important subject.

We do not aim to 'fix' individuals or their problems, nor are we training people to make a diagnosis. Instead our aim is to simply promote a deeper understanding of what makes each person tick

When it comes to mental and physical health, we believe that many people already demonstrate self-awareness, and so we decided to draw on that existing knowledge and create a channel through which these valuable experiences can be shared. In turn, participants will come to recognise that small modifications in their daily life can make significant changes to their mental and physical health.

Image: Nautilus yacht partner Karen Passman Impact Crew
Karen Passman of Impact Crew

Different is normal. But it is also important to recognise when certain behaviours and characteristics become a problem – for you and the people you work with. How do you respond to the pressures of social media? Are you able to get the downtime you need to clear your head and make sense of your day? Are you aware of the impact that you are having on others? These are just some of the topics that will be discussed. We do not aim to 'fix' individuals or their problems, nor are we training people to make a diagnosis. Instead our aim is to simply promote a deeper understanding of what makes each person tick. We will seek to encourage a greater awareness of the effects of individual behaviours and to provide the tools to prevent 'good' stress advancing to ‘bad’ stress and causing the problems that we hear about all too frequently, causing owners and crew to leave the industry.

The workshop is designed to link up with all the current resources available through various maritime charities and organisations, and part of the day will be to signpost crew to where they can seek further help should they feel they need it for themselves or those they support.

For further information on Stress Happens!, contact Karen Passman of Impact Crew or Liz Baugh of Red Square Medical


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