At this year’s Monaco Yacht Show on Saturday morning, Dockwalk and Capt. Kelly Gordon hosted a mental health discussion titled
“Mental Health in Yachting: A Talk by Capt. Kelly” at the Captains and Crew Lounge.
As an active and vocal member of the industry, Capt. Kelly shared messages she’s received from crewmembers in situations that affected their safety or mental/physical health. More than half of all crew have seen a decline in their mental health since joining the yachting industry, and crew are afraid that they will lose their job/be blackballed if they speak up. This, and the fact that she herself has faced harassment as a captain, were the motivating factors for having this discussion.
After losing a crewmember to suicide late last year, Gordon knew she needed to say something, even if she didn’t quite know what it was she wanted to say. “I just want to remind you of something — we’re all fighting a battle. Every single one of us sitting here today, big or small, we’re all fighting a battle in our own head, so if you can be anything, be kind.”
During the Miami boat show earlier this year, Gordon and other industry professionals realized from speaking to crew, management companies, and other yachting industry members that it was captains and management who had the greatest ability to make change. While captains and management also fear getting fired, Gordon also points out there’s no amount of money or position that’s worth a deterioration of your mental health.
“At the end of the day, the only person that’s responsible for your well-being is you, so don’t put it all on them, even though they wear a big part of the load,” she says. “The only way we’re going to see a change is if we advocate for our own selves and our crewmates and by speaking up.”
Change in the industry won’t happen overnight, but Gordon has heard from crew who have been encouraged to speak out by her posts and seminars. She says, “We can change the culture of this industry, making it more amazing than it already is, one crewmember at a time.”
Watch the full seminar below, and dockwalk.com/mys2023captkelly: