Leading Organizations Create North Sea Mental Health Charter

Leading Organizations Create North Sea Mental Health Charter
'Despite past efforts, the needle on mental health improvement does not seem to be moving in the right direction'.
Image by Jorm Sangsorn via iStock

The North Sea Chapter of the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) has revealed that almost 200 representatives of “leading organizations” in the energy industry have developed a charter aimed at improving the mental health of North Sea workers.

This agreement is being driven by the North Sea Chapter of the IADC and led by a dedicated team who have determined the key areas of focus for the industry, the IADC highlighted in an update sent to Rigzone. A charter document is poised to undergo a wider consultation with stakeholders, including psychologists, before being issued “in the coming weeks” the IADC revealed.

The IADC noted in the update that the sector wide agreement is being developed in recognition that more must be done after research found 40 percent of onshore and offshore workers experienced suicidal thoughts some or all of the time while on duty. The charter is said to include contributions from operators, contractors, psychologists, and third sector organizations and provide a framework to improve the mental health and safety of workers across the industry.

“To have so many stakeholders determined to play a part in improving the mental health support available to energy workers, both offshore and onshore, is heartening,” Darren Sutherland, the Chair of the IADC North Sea Chapter, said in an organization statement.

“Despite past efforts, the needle on mental health improvement does not seem to be moving in the right direction, let alone at pace. Tools have been created to better support mental health previously, but these have largely been activated through sign posting tactics and have failed to address the necessary cultural change required,” he added.

“The current generation of oil and gas workers will be remembered for being at the head of the energy transition - but that transition must include improving how we care for each other. And it must start today,” he continued.

“This is not a box-ticking exercise. I would encourage as many organizations as possible to not only sign up to the charter, but to embrace it. We have the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of those we work and live beside and it is an opportunity we cannot let pass by,” Sutherland went on to note.

Rigzone asked industry body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) for comment on the IADC’s update. OEUK told Rigzone that it would not be able to provide comment on this occasion.

Workshop, Whitepaper

On April 25, the IADC North Sea Chapter hosted a Mental Health in Energy Workshop. More than 200 delegates gathered at the Chester Hotel in Aberdeen to “engage in dynamic discussion and take action on this important topic” the North Sea Chapter of the IADC highlighted in a statement posted on its website earlier this month. 

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, the IADC noted in the statement, adding that this change must be driven by the people who work in the industry.

Prior to the workshop, the North Sea Chapter of the IADC published a white paper on mental health in the North Sea. That whitepaper noted that a recent study by the International SOS Foundation of onshore and offshore remote rotational shift workers found 40 percent experienced suicidal thoughts some or all of the time while on duty.

The whitepaper also highlighted that UK-based Champion Health’s Workplace Health Report 2023 found that the number of employees experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm had increased to nine percent since the previous year and that 19 percent of workers have a current mental health diagnosis.

In O.C. Tanner’s 2023 Global Culture Report released earlier this year, 56 percent of oil and gas workers reported that their direct managers seem stressed.

To contact the author, email andreas.exarheas@rigzone.com

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