Study exposes mental ill health among remote rotational workers


A study has highlighted the impact remote rotational work can have on mental health, with a significant proportion of staff experiencing a decline in mood and suicidal thoughts.

Some 40% of people in remote rotational work, whether on or offshore, reported having suicidal thoughts some or all of the time, according to the International SOS Foundation and Affinity Health at Work report Mental health and the remote rotational workforce.

Nearly three in 10 met the benchmark for clinical depression while on rotation and six in 10 had poorer mental health than would be the norm in the population, falling to three in 10 while off rotation.

Fifty-two per cent reported a decline in mood while on shift, 46% reported higher stress levels, and 48% experienced emotional exhaustion on a weekly basis.

Dr Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, medical director for wellness at the International SOS Foundation, said: “There is an urgent need for increased focus, understanding and strategies to mitigate mental ill health and promote better metal health of the remote rotational workforce. This is highlighted in our survey, which uncovers significantly high levels of critical mental ill health issues, including suicidal thoughts and depression.”

The findings suggested some employers needed to do more to support workers: 23% of respondents said they received no psychological support from their organisation.

Dr Rodriguez-Fernandez said that organisations should have a support programme that encompasses both mental and physical health needs.

The survey found 35% exercised less, 38% slept poorly, and 28% were less able to eat a nutritious diet while working.

Respondents were also asked about the impact the pandemic had had: 65% felt job demands had increased; 56% felt working hours, stress and anxiety had increased, and 23% had more negative physical health problems such as headaches and stomach issues.

Some 200 workers took part in the survey and represented industries including mining, offshore and seafaring. Eighty-one per cent were male and had an average age of 41 years. Ninety-five per cent had no history, or current diagnosis of, any psychological issues.

2 Responses to Study exposes mental ill health among remote rotational workers

  1. Avatar
    Jim Gilmartin 14 Apr 2021 at 5:26 pm #

    It amazes me how we need expensive studies to state the obvious, no one should do anymore than two weeks on an oil Rig or Platform. I have over thirty years experience offshore and in remote locations and have witnessed the workload increase on individuals. The sad fact is that corporate greed means the last thing to be considered is workers mental wellbeing…..oh, did I mention TWO WEEKS max might help.

  2. Avatar
    Simon 19 Apr 2021 at 8:44 am #

    I have to agree with Jim, however, the industry chooses not to listen to those on the ground, but spend money on a consultation and it is recognised. It is out there and not made better by poor quality offshore medicals and over prescribing by GPs with medications that are easier than managing cases with talking therapies, excercise or reducing the periods offshore. There is need to address work patterns and living/working conditions offshore.

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