Offshore Europe delegates told not to forget about workers’ mental health

Darren Sutherland (IADC)

THE GROUP behind a drive to improve mental health in the North Sea energy sector today urged delegates to ensure the people agenda is at the forefront of their minds at Offshore Europe.

Thousands of people from some of the world’s biggest companies will gather in Aberdeen this week to discuss the energy transition, decommissioning and the future of the industry.

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The conference takes place following the launch of the Mental Health and Well-being Charter, which was drafted following consultation with almost 200 people from operators, contractors, mental health professionals and third sector organisations.

And Darren Sutherland, Chair of the North Sea Chapter of the International Association of Drilling Contractors – the group leading the Mental Health in Energy taskforce – said companies need to ensure personnel are not forgotten about amid a plethora of tools, technology and talks.

He said: “There will be plenty of tangible assets on display at Offshore Europe as companies discuss ways to ensure they are able to provide value for shareholders.

“However, while the tools on display will be able to help drive the energy sector forward, they depend on the human capital that drives the industry. That is why it is critical we maintain the momentum already gathered in our commitment to ensure the physical and mental well-being of everyone involved in the industry.

“It’s an issue so important a special taskforce has been set-up, and we are determined to make a difference to the men and women – and their families – at the head of our industry. The sector would be at a loss without the talent the North Sea possesses, and it is critical we do our best to support their mental health and wellbeing.

“We know there is an appetite for changing how we approach mental health, something that was illustrated by the hundreds of people that attended our event to launch this campaign.”

To tie in with Offshore Europe, the first meeting of the working party will take place on Thursday when representatives from organisations including Ineos, Mental Health Aberdeen, EY, Wood, OEUK and Dolphin Drilling will gather to discuss how the group can ensure lasting change.

Companies including Aker Solutions, Expro, Ithaca Energy, Proserv and Borr Drilling have all pledged to support the movement, which was launched in an effort to drive cultural change in how the energy sector approaches mental health.

The maiden meeting of the task force takes place before World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, September 10, where people around the world focus on reducing stigma and raising awareness of suicide among organisations, governments and the public.

Darren added: “We want companies to sign up to the Charter, not because they think they should, but because they want to make a difference to the industry. There is a positive return on this investment for firms that sign up, adopt and embrace the challenge of tackling poor mental health.

“Enhanced mental health can lead to more productivity among staff, fewer days off and a happier environment to work in. Above all else, it can help save lives.”

The development of the 10-point charter follows the publication of a report from the IADC – Changing Minds: Saving Lives – which urged a new approach to mental health in the North Sea.

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