World Mental Health Day
Minding Your Mind
World Mental Health Day on October 10th is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
We take a look at mental well-being in the offshore industry.
Work in the offshore sector can be very exciting, demanding and rewarding. It’s a fast-growing market with strong environmental benefits and continues to attract people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Operating across all meteorological conditions in a maritime world means that physiological challenges faced by offshore workers are often immense. Combine this with being away from loved ones plus working and living in close proximity with colleagues for lengthy periods, may sometimes present stressful situations which can lead to mental health issues. Bad weather, safety risks and operational deadlines can create sometimes seemingly insurmountable hurdles.
There should be no ‘stigma’ attached to a mental health problem. Brains can be susceptible to functional impairment just like bodies can get physically injured. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year according to mental health charity, Mind.
So what can we do to help ourselves avoid or overcome stress, depression or anxiety? Putting a simple self-help plan in place is a highly effective starting point e.g. for reframing un-helpful thoughts, tackling worries, problem solving, bouncing back from life’s challenges and keeping on top of things.
Some easy to follow guidelines can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters
Regular exercise has a huge potential to enhance our mental health. Whilst it may seem unachievable to get plenty of exercise when working offshore, this is not the case. You do not need a large amount of space to engage in physical activity. A High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session in your cabin can help release tension and stress and get the endorphins pumping. Even a short brisk walk around the top deck of a vessel can increase self-esteem and help reduce anxiety. Exercise together with a sensible diet including plenty of water, helps to keep our minds thinking and working positively.
There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. It’s a vicious cycle…mental health issues can affect quality and amount of sleep and poor sleep itself can have a negative effect on mental health. Working on offshore rigs and vessels can be noisy at times but sleeping cabins are pretty comfortable and after a hard working 12-hour shift, it’s usually not too difficult to drift off.
It is important to be disciplined when it’s time for sleep though – electronic devices should be switched off / silenced and other distractions should be avoided. Even if sleep doesn’t come easily, spending time lying down with eyes closed can be the next best thing.
“A problem shared is a problem halved”. Just talking about our feelings and thoughts with a trusted colleague, relative or friend can often make us feel better. Comradery in the offshore sector can be a real bonus. A positive “We’re all in the same boat” team ethos is a great lifter of personal spirit!
If you know someone struggling with their mental health or recognise a change in someone’s normal behaviour which could indicate a mental health issue, there are things you can do to help, for example, offering your time to listen to them, being patient and providing some re-assurance.
For more information, visit https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/supporting-others/helping-others/ and https://www.rehab-recovery.co.uk/mental-health/
Minding Your Mind