Loneliness and Isolation Among Oil and Gas Workers a Huge Concern

Job insecurity and the pandemic also affected worker's mental health.

A male engineer at an oil and gas construction site wearing a covid mask
Source: Lorado/Getty Images

Lone workers in the oil and gas sector face a plethora of issues. Working in remote locations or offshore, workers are at risk of a number of accidents such as slips, falls, chemical exposure, and even explosions. But aside from physical hazards, what of psychological safety?

Isolation among remote workers is a huge issue. In addition, the employment landscape in oil and gas has been unstable for a number of years now because of a market downturn, a push toward more sustainable energies, and more recently COVID-19.

“When we think about all the factors that contribute to the development of any mental health conditions, things that come to mind are isolation, loneliness … and job insecurity,” said Khush Amaria, a clinical psychologist and senior clinical director for CBT Associates and MindBeacon digital therapy.

And the timing of COVID-19 certainly hasn’t helped, exacerbating both feelings of isolation and job insecurity.

Amaria says that, across all industries, her organization’s data shows that around one in four Canadians suffer from mental health conditions such anxiety, depression, or PTSD. She says that, while individual factors exist of course, the addition of additional stressors can help tip the scales toward a person developing a mental health condition.

In the oil and gas sector—and other male-dominated industries where mental health is perhaps less talked about—there are additional barriers in helping people recognize signs that individuals are struggling, Amaria said.

Being able to identify symptoms such as irritability and anger, withdrawal, or trouble doing your task can help by making conversations less about building emotional awareness and more about tangible signs.

“As we train on the front lines, people can also better watch out for each other. They can ask their buddy how they’re really doing. They can reach out to a [supervisor] that they trust about how they’re really feeling,” she said.

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