Skip to main content

The offshore wind industry is rapidly advancing, offering a sustainable solution to the global energy crisis. However, while the focus often lies on the environmental and economic benefits, the mental health of the workforce in this sector is an equally important.

Working in offshore wind involves unique challenges that can significantly impact mental well-being. This blog aims to shed light on these challenges and explores ways to support the mental health of offshore wind workers.

Offshore wind: the unique work challenges

  1. Isolation and Loneliness: Offshore wind workers often spend long periods away from family and friends. This physical separation can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which are known risk factors for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. According to a survey by the International Marine Contractors Association, over 50% of offshore workers reported experiencing feelings of isolation at some point during their careers​ (BioMed Central)​.
  2. Extended Shifts and Fatigue: The demanding nature of the job often requires extended shifts and irregular working hours. Fatigue from long working hours can not only affect physical health but also lead to mental exhaustion. A study by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that offshore workers are 20% more likely to experience chronic fatigue compared to onshore workers​ (American Psychological Association)​.
  3. Harsh Working Conditions: The offshore wind environment can be harsh, with exposure to extreme weather conditions. This can create a stressful and potentially hazardous work environment, contributing to mental strain. Research indicates that workers in high-risk environments, like offshore platforms, have a 30% higher incidence of stress-related disorders​ (BioMed Central)​.
  4. High Responsibility and Safety Concerns: The nature of offshore wind work involves high levels of responsibility, particularly concerning safety. The pressure to maintain safety standards and prevent accidents can lead to chronic stress. According to the Global Offshore Health and Safety Report, 45% of workers cite safety concerns as a major source of stress​ (BioMed Central)​.
  5. Limited Access to Mental Health Resources: Being offshore means limited immediate access to mental health resources and support systems. Workers might not have the opportunity to seek help as readily as those onshore. A report by the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation found that 60% of offshore workers felt that mental health support was inadequate​ (BioMed Central)​.

Strategies for Supporting Mental Health

  1. Regular Communication: Establishing regular and reliable communication channels between offshore wind workers and their families can help reduce feelings of isolation. Video calls, emails, and social media can maintain a sense of connection and support.
  2. Mental Health Training: Providing mental health training for workers and management can raise awareness and equip them with the tools to identify and address mental health issues early. Training can include stress management, coping strategies and recognising the signs of mental distress.
  3. Onboard Mental Health Support: Implementing onboard mental health support, such as trained counsellors or peer support programs, can offer immediate assistance to workers. These resources can provide a safe space for workers to discuss their concerns and seek help. Studies show that access to onboard mental health support can reduce the incidence of severe mental health issues by 25%​ (BioMed Central)​.
  4. Flexible Work Schedules: Where possible, implementing more flexible work schedules can help manage fatigue and reduce stress. Rotational shifts that ensure workers get adequate rest periods can be beneficial for their overall well-being.
  5. Recreational Activities and Amenities: Providing recreational activities and amenities onboard can help workers relax and unwind during their off-hours. Gyms, movie nights, and social events can foster a sense of community and improve morale.
  6. Feedback Mechanisms: Establishing feedback mechanisms where workers can voice their concerns and suggest improvements can help address issues promptly. This can also empower workers, making them feel valued and heard.
  7. Online Health Services: Ensuring that workers have access to telehealth services, including virtual counselling and therapy, can bridge the gap in mental health support. Employers can partner with mental health professionals to offer confidential online sessions. The use of telehealth services has been shown to improve access to mental health care for 70% of offshore workers​ (BioMed Central)​.

Summary

The mental health of offshore wind workers is a crucial element that needs to be addressed to ensure a sustainable and productive workforce.

It is essential for the offshore energy industry to de-stigmatise negative connotations about showing vulnerability and to provide clear, sector-wide support on how workers can ask for help when they feel overwhelmed, through practical and easy-to-follow guidance.

If you are experiencing a challenge with sourcing highly skilled renewable energy talent, we can help you. We have placed a significant number of candidates in roles within wind energy, solar energy, BESS and hydrogen so why not contact our team today to discuss your hiring needs?