Why Crew Needs Should Be Taken Seriously

The industry is finding itself in an interesting space at the moment, and I am so pleased to say that there are some industry-specific business owners, both new and old, who are working together to combat the current issues that face us.

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Crew welfare should be taken seriously and addressed with the utmost priority – guests experiences shouldn’t be at the detriment of crew needs.

I.S.W.A.N’s Recent Survey Results Found That:

  • 82% had experienced low crew morale ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’.
  • 77% of women, and 55% of men, had experienced problems with onboard leadership ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’.
  • 57% of women and 39% of men suffered from social isolation or loneliness ‘sometimes’, ‘often’ or ‘always’ while working onboard.

I can confidently say that the industry is starting to take a serious look at these statistics, and we are working towards combating these issues.

The I.S.W.A.N research findings suggest that a large proportion of crew are either not confident in whom to turn to for support when their psychological safety is at risk or fear that confidentiality will be breached or they may be at risk of losing their jobs.

Social isolation is naturally common in the industry, with periods at anchor, back-to-back charters or live-aboard owners allowing very little time for quality time to connect with friends and family. As social beings, we crave a sense of belonging and love, and when this isn’t available, we can develop a propensity to loneliness, social anxiety and clinical depression.

I believe that communities should exist to protect and support each other in achieving their common goal. Maladaptive behaviours such as bullying, assault, or other psychological and physical abuse will only rupture the relationship between the victim and offender. They will subsequently filter into their living and working environment, gradually spreading toxicity.

The Physiological Effects of Isolation

Research by neuroscientists has found that ostracism can lead to actual physical pain, potentially leading to early mortality. Having worked with prisoners in solitary confinement, I have seen their health and mental state deteriorate with my very own eyes. I’ll reserve my thoughts on this here, but it is so inhumane and can cause short-term and long-term damage.

I encourage crew to try to maintain regular contact with friends and family members whenever possible. If you feel that your mental health is deteriorating, please don’t hesitate to reach out to service providers such as ISWAN and The Crew Coach for professional help.

Moving Forward

The industry also needs to take responsibility by including mental health first aid as part of the mandatory entry-level training and advising green crew on the resources available to them when requiring support. 

A further recommendation would be to include this type of training as part of the formal induction program when onboarding new crew. Educating new team members on the services available to them should minimise the onset of mental health issues or inhibit it from spiralling out of control. At the same time, please provide them with a permanently available channel to get help and support. These strategies form part of good practice and duty of care, which should be embedded in the work-life culture onboard.

To find out why I go for counselling, read more here.

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In our next blog, we will unpack the hard truth of crew morale and leadership. See you there!

Why Crew Needs Should Be Taken Seriously