With World Mental Health Day fast approaching, on 10 October 2019, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about a topic close to my heart and an issue I dwell on often, the prevalence of depression in the oil, gas and engineering industries. It is close to my heart as I missed the opportunity to help some of my closest friends.
In an industry so broadly proliferated by men, it is no surprise that depression and anxiety is particularly prevalent in the oil, gas and engineering industries.
The Stats Behind Depression
Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression and at least half of those people are also given a diagnosis for having an anxiety disorder.
Daily hundreds of men take their lives due to depression across the globe, and the number of people taking prescription medication for anxiety is growing day by day. In the UK alone, suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
And sadly, the statistics for depression-related incidents are showing numbers that are on the rise. This is a very serious issue because it is affecting the lives of millions and no one seems to be targeting the issue with enough emphasis on how men are affected by the condition.
The Stigma Of Men And Depression
Why is depression so prevalent in men? Since the start of time, men have been assumed the position of the hunter and provider of the pack. While both men and women play their roles in society, those roles are starting to blur as women take on more of the jobs commonly done by men, and more men take on jobs commonly done by women.
With that said, the stigma of men and depression continues to prevail in modern society. Society still frowns upon men who show their feelings and men who let everyone see their emotional side, and men bottle up those feelings every day in an attempt to fit the male stereotype.
Younger generations are starting to see the big problem with that and they are learning how to give both men and women equal treatment.
Depression In The Energy & Engineering Industries
Men who work in the oil & gas and engineering industries seem to be at particular risk when it comes to depression.
As stated by beyondblue.org.au, a Government-funded study from my university, Curtin University found that one in three ‘Fly in Fly Out’ FIFO workers experiences high levels of psychological distress, and can of course also take its toll on the family members left at home.
The industry presents an environment where a man is expected to fulfil the ‘macho’ stereotype associated with this typically physical, manly environment. Oil and Gas and Engineering can also be a lonely industry to work in with time spent in remote, sometimes hostile environments, away from home, family and friends.
Working in these fields can therefore mean that individuals experience depression alone, due to physical factors, such as location, and emotional stereotypes meaning the largely male workforce fear ridicule for admitting that they feel depressed and that they need help.
The Power Of World Mental Health Day
One of the greatest things about World Mental Health Day is that it gives people the opportunity to have the courage to speak about their depression. With so many supporters speaking out on this particular day, there will be more men who feel encouraged by hearing other males and their stories.
This is a perfect moment for anyone who has ever felt depressed to join the many meetings and events that are taking place on the 10th of October. With this day being close, it’s a good idea to start raising awareness now. The sooner the word spreads out on the importance of helping men with stress and anxiety disorders, the easier it will be for many of those men to feel comfortable enough to ask for help and get better.
Men Deserve To Be Able To Express Their Feelings
We need to get rid of the idea that men have to hide their feelings in order to be real men. This is something that many people are starting to understand, but the problem is still common and the more support men are given, the more likely it is that they will let go of that imposed burden.
I kick my self almost every day for not identifying the "black dog" in my closest friends lives until it was too late. The fact is I simply did not ask enough "soft" questions. I was worried they would think I was soft this or at the time I was too self absorbed to ask. The blame is not solely on me and friends alike; it is on our culture and the person to change the mindset that to speak is weak.
Change the culture. MAN UP and care for our fellow man and ask if they need help. Even if I didn't.
Caring for others does not equal softness and speaking up shows that you are man enough to own your fears and over come them. Speaking up doesn't even mean you need to ask for help, often it will allow you to help yourself.
World Mental Health Day should be something that we celebrate on a daily basis. Our mental health is the true backbone of our wellness, and those who are experiencing mental distress, are usually living a very difficult life, and they deserve to have peace of mind in order to perform at their best in their jobs and to be their best in their personal lives.
Everyone should be aware of the importance of raising awareness on October 10th, and making sure that more people can understand the problem behind the stigma of men and depression.
Wherever you are in APAC, you can speak with a trained mental health professional via the Beyond Blue Support Service:
Call AU 1300 22 4636 (available 24/7)
Call from outside Australia +61 3 9810 6100
Chat online (between 3pm – 12am AEST)
Email (receive a response within 24 hours)