Whether on or offshore, the work and lifestyle of remote rotational workers, including seafarers, is unique. While lucrative for some, it has long been associated with a high impact on mental health and wellbeing. A new global report from the International SOS Foundation and Affinity Health at Work provides an in depth insight into the psychological impacts of this unique mode of working. The new study highlights evidence of the high level of suicidal thoughts, clinical depression, impacts on physical health such as diet and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on remote rotational workers.
Key study findings show that 40% of all respondents experienced suicidal thoughts on rotation some or all the time compared to an average of 4% to 9%. One in five are feeling suicidal all or most of the time.
29% met the benchmark for clinical depression whilst on-rotation while 52% reported a decline in mood, and their mental health suffered whilst on rotation.
62% had worse mental health than would be the norm in a population. While off rotation, this remains at a high of 31% experiencing lower mental health than the general population.
The study also exposed that almost 23% of the remote rotational workers surveyed experienced emotional exhaustion on a weekly basis. 46% experienced higher stress levels while on rotation and over half – 57% – were not engaged in their work. 23% reported that they received no psychological support from their employers.
Dr Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, medical director at International SOS, commented, “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 Covid-19 environment has also added increased stress on this already pressured working arrangement.”
The study looked at the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic with 65% of respondents experiencing increased job demands and 56% of those surveyed suffering increased working hours stress and anxiety.