Mental health issues are harder to spot than physical health issues. At TEXO, we take mental health and mental illness seriously. Here, our commercial director, Steve Johnson, talks about why it’s important to recognise the signs and impact of mental health issues.
“The way people relate to each other at work is changing,” says Steve, who is also a volunteer director at Mental Health Aberdeen. “Partly, this is about the younger generation entering the workforce who perhaps engage more openly, but there is also a societal shift taking place where it is OK to talk about how you are feeling.
The barriers between what are topics for discussion at home and at work are also breaking down. People are not just workers – they are human beings with their own stresses and strains – and we should always bear this in mind.”
At TEXO, we’re all encouraged to do what we can to help others. That may take effort, particularly at a time when we all have our own challenges and needs, but it is incredibly important.
The mindset here is that we are ‘all in this together’. There is, of course, a legal obligation to look after people, but mental health support should never be reduced to a box ticking exercise.
We believe that the way forward is to make sure we signpost that it is alright to have conversations about how people feel, and that they know where to go to find the right help and support. Providing early mental health support helps to avoid that point of crisis where someone feels that they can’t cope.
What are the signs that someone is struggling?
“The better you know your people, the sooner you might see if they are in difficulty,” says Steve.
“Things to keep an eye on include changes in demeanour, behaviour, or routine. This may manifest in small signals around how someone might dress or behave. The challenge is in telling the difference between a bad day or something more sustained.”
And this is particularly important in the industries where TEXO operates, which often have a tradition of not sharing problems and just ‘getting on’.
“The oil and gas industry is famously cyclical,” says Steve, giving an example. “If left unchecked this sense of precarity can have a negative impact on people’s outlook, especially where drop in oil price creates fear of imminent job losses or additional stress.
Companies working in the space must work out how best to tackle this difficulty. There is a sense that some in the industry see this simply as the cost of doing business, but we should consider how to reduce the severity of the highs and lows and how it impacts people across the extended supply chain.”
One way to do this may be through engagement with the broader energy space. While oil and gas goes through significant booms and busts, renewable energy opportunities for example, do not move to the same rhythm.
The workplace expectations and dynamics are changing. Part of that will require new thinking about mental health and the wellbeing of all. And at TEXO, we are committed to being part of that positive change.