On 25 April, the IADC North Sea Chapter hosted the Mental Health in Energy Workshop in collaboration with Energy Voice. Over 200 delegates gathered at The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen to engage in dynamic discussion and take action on this important topic. A recording of the event is available here.
The purpose of this workshop was to begin a joined-up cultural shift from the top down, to effectively address the issue of the current state of mental health in the energy industry. This change must be driven by the people who work in the industry, the people who live with these challenges daily. Some goals included laying out the fundamentals for care provision, defining the necessary training, and building on existing tools to create an inclusive industry-wide mental health charter.
The event began with a panel discussion on various topics, such as whether these important conversations are being had in the energy industry, shedding more light on what “mental health” really is, whether there are positive changes in this area in the industry, how companies and leaders can better support the workforce in regards to mental health, etc.
- Kirstin Gove – Head of Communications, Global Underwater Hub (panel moderator)
- Darren Sutherland – Chairman of IADC North Sea Chapter
- Gordon Craig – Chaplain to the UK Oil & Gas Industry
- Cami Rose Alexander – Mental Health Practitioner
- Brett Townsley BCAc – Mental Health Harm Prevention & Psychological Safety Specialist
- Kim Woolner, FCIPD – Head of People & Culture, Ithaca Energy
The panel discussion was followed by interactive workshop table sessions, which really set this event apart from other discussions on mental health. Utilizing QR codes linked to guiding questions, each table of attendees held its own hour-long discussion and recorded the thoughts and findings gleaned from the conversations. Attendees were encouraged to gather as much information and as many observations as possible because their contributions will inform the creation of the North Sea Chapter’s charter on mental health for the energy industry. Highlights from small table discussions were shared with the full group.
Preceding this workshop event, the North Sea Chapter issued a 15-page white paper titled “Changing Minds: Saving Lives – An urgent new approach to mental health in the North Sea.” The white paper highlights some of the key points from a focus group made up of operators and supply chain companies. The purpose of the report is to discuss ways to best support the mental health of workers in the UK Continental Shelf. Some significant points mentioned in the white paper include:
- 40% of onshore and offshore remote rotational shift workers experienced suicidal thoughts some or all the time while on duty
- Nearly a third met the benchmark for clinical depression while on rotation and more than a third experienced a worse quality of sleep
- Offshore workers are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than those onshore
- A third of 18-24-year-olds believe their employers do not take mental health as seriously as physical health
From low moods to loss of life, the crisis among employees is deepening. Widespread stressors such as the pandemic, the war in Europe, and the rising cost of living are intensified by industry-specific pressures. These include remote working, separation from family and community for regular periods, rotational shift patterns; cyclical recruitment and redundancy; and retraining due to changes in existing jobs or for new roles.
The IADC North Sea Chapter hosted the Mental Health in Energy Workshop as an important part of a larger initiative to drive cultural change on how mental health is addressed in the energy industry. Next steps include creating an inclusive industry-wide mental health charter.