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Yacht purser Samantha Morris on mental health and the challenges she has faced during the pandemic

29 April 2021

Samantha Morris explains why she believes mental health awareness is key to building a better future for the maritime industry after the pandemic.

In Mental Health Awareness Week on 10-16 May 2021, Samantha Morris launched a fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation. Support Samantha via her JustGiving page as she takes on the challenge of climbing Helvellyn in the Lake District.

What originally attracted you to a career in maritime?

My grandma used to travel a lot. She would have at least four holidays per year and cruising was one of her favourite ways to escape. In my late teens, myself and my dad followed in her footsteps and started cruising together.

I became very envious of the crew that were able to enjoy several voyages repeatedly, and with the bonus of being paid to experience it.

Do you have any personal or family connections to the sea?

My dad was in the Royal Navy as a submariner on the HMS Renown.

What does your current job involve?

Crew management, crew welfare and safeguarding, guest & crew logistics, all finances, budget control, invoicing, petty cash, purchasing requests and credit card reconciliations. All administration of the vessel, port clearances and vaccination sourcing etc. The list is endless and always a welcome challenge.

Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and career challenges

The highlight of my career by far is the people I have met along my journey, whether that is crew, port agents, provisioning companies, recruitment agents. I love building relationships with people.

My career challenges, well there are a few. Sourcing precautionary vaccinations for 40+ crew before arriving at our destination when there was a global shortage of Hep A&B; and of course, the Covid-19 pandemic, when all the planes in the world sat on the tarmac at airports and I needed to be able to fly crew to and from the vessel. It was impossible.

Who has helped you the most in your career?

In my yachting career, this has to be Chris Daine from Sea Daine Recruitment. Chris gives me the best advice when I need someone the most and he teaches me to have more confidence in myself and my abilities.

What is the one change that would make the biggest positive difference to your job?

For the maritime industry to be more mental health aware. This is a daily challenge for seafarers who spend months working away on our 'home away from home'. Some people might say this is the choice we make – to both travel and have generous salaries that are hard to find with shore jobs – but this does not mean that our mental health should be ignored.

I recently read 'How maritime can build back better from Covid-19' from the Nautilus e-telegraph and I feel that this is one of the ways in which we can do this. I feel that a Mental Health Awareness certification should become part of the STCW requirements for each seafarer.

Crew changes are important to ensure that crew do not get fatigued from working long hours and spending days without stepping foot on shore. This would also prevent accidents from happening. The industry should be more proactive than reactive to these situations.

This year I plan to walk the Helvellyn Peak with my dad to raise money for mental health awareness, both on ship and shore.

What's your favourite podcast?

Happy Place by Fearne Cotton. Every Sunday a new episode is released, and a new celebrity or public figure is interviewed about their own experiences with mental health.

What do you like doing in your free time?

In my spare time, I attend yoga classes and listen to guided meditations as these relax my mind from my busy working days and restore my balance.

What is your favourite place you have visited during your career?

Western Samoa.  I escorted a tour there during my world cruise on the cruiseships. The tour was called 'Village Life.' I visited a local family home and they cooked, danced and welcomed us with open arms.

What are your plans for the future?

I am still discovering. I have just embarked on a journey with Karine Ryson, The Crew Coach, and enrolled on her course called 'Discover your Career Potential'. With her amazing coaching skills and the support and guidance from my fellow students, I am learning to become more aligned with my core values and to achieve the right balance between work and time for myself.

How long have you been a member of Nautilus, and what made you join?

I have been a member for just over a year. I joined due to the pandemic when some of my peers lost their jobs without notice and others had their salaries withheld. It is always amazing to become part of a community, but I have really learned a lot from Nautilus. Both from Rachel Lynch, Mark Dickinson, Debbie Cavaldoro and from the e-telegraph.

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Build Back Better webinar

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