Shifting Paradigm of Mental Hygiene: A Novel Approach To Mitigate Workers’ Distress in the Oil and Gas Industry

The objective of this paper is to advocate for the practice of mental hygiene as an occupational health and safety solution to safeguard mental health and enhance psychological resilience of the workforce in the oil and gas industry.

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The oil and gas industry is a highly demanding industry with its inherent environmental and psychological challenges posing a certain risk to employees’ mental health. In addition, varied responses to psychological factors of the workforce also may increase the risk to mental health. A comparative study has shown that anxiety and depression are more prevalent among workers in the oil and gas industry compared with the general population. The reason behind this is the particular pressure to avoid mistakes in the industry. Serious consequences of mistakes in this industry include loss of life and harm to the environment. In addition, offshore workers also experience isolation, loneliness, frustration, and dissatisfaction stemming from working remotely and away from family. Unum Group conducted a claim analysis in the oil and gas extraction industry that showed that 26% of incapacity claims between 2014 and 2018 are caused by mental and psychological issues.

The growing acknowledgment of the role of stressors in the workplace on mental health accentuates the importance of preventive psychological strategies. Mental hygiene is a preventive measure for sustaining good emotional health by developing and maintaining certain behavioral, social, and emotional skills. This paper highlights some of the mental hygiene practices considering the pertinence and aptness to the unique work environment of the oil and gas industry.

For the purpose of this overview, data was searched and reviewed from Google Scholar, PubMed, and Springer databases. The key terms searched focused on mental hygiene, stressors, and mental health in the oil and gas industry. Guidelines, meta-analyses, and systematic and nonsystematic reviews were considered relevant for this overview. The ultimate goal is to offer practical suggestions to prevent and maintain mental health in the oil and gas industry.

SPE members can download the complete paper from SPE’s Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability Technical Discipline page for free until 28 June.

Find paper SPE 210788 on OnePetro here.