With the disruption that the Covid-19 outbreak has caused in all of our lives, it’s perhaps no surprise that some people are seeing their mental health suffer. Whether it’s money worries, being stuck at home when you are normally out and about, or just the uncertainty of what lies ahead, it’s a really tough time. But for oil and gas workers, an online support group is here to lend a helping hand.
manUP speakUP is the brainchild of Mike Scotland, an oil and gas worker who experienced his own personal battles against mental health challenges and has turned it into a way to support others with the goal of breaking down the stigma that is attached to the industry.
And despite the restrictions caused by the lockdown, his group is continuing to provide that the support for the members that have openly said, “this group has saved my life”.
Mike said: “Pre-lockdown, I created a secondary group to manUP speakUP called Community cleanUP which had weekly events across the globe where people could come together, do something good for their community – because it’s been shown that helping others can give your mood a boost – but also connect with other like-minded people to chat about things openly. But it’s done while cleaning up the environment which is amazing for the locals to come together and take pride back to the land which has been neglected.
“That’s obviously not possible in the current circumstances but our Community cleanUP Facebook group is still very active.”
For Mike, his role has become to create online content that can help people stay out of a dark place and make the transition in to this new way of life much easier to adapt to.
“We’ve got activity kits of things people can do at home – often involving their children – to stay busy.
“I’ve also been making a lot of videos and doing live videos through both Facebook and Instagram on everything from my son and I creating little adventures (which parents can try out); comedy poems reflecting on the current crisis to put a positive spin on it; and multiple DIY projects anyone can do at home with recyclable items which would most likely just be disposed of pre-lockdown.
“And using my background and professional experience with fitness and football, I’ve been doing various workouts and routines for anyone watching to join in with and giving advice along the way. The feedback that I’ve received has been absolutely incredible.
“I’m trying to create a space where people have options and ideas they can try out to see what helps them – I’m not a mental health professional, I just know what’s worked for me and I want to share those ideas to help as many other people who are struggling as possible.”
He added: “And what I want to show through my content is that they are authentic – I don’t re-record videos to get them perfect, I show things just as they happen because it’s important for people to see the truth, to see that you might fail but it’s about getting back up again and keep moving forward.”
Mike’s Community cleanUP group has also turned its attention to reusing products in people’s homes to encourage awareness of those households items that may seem there is no use for. They are compressing non-recyclable plastic into “ecobricks” which was one of the members’ initiatives. They can then be used to help build various household items and garden furniture.
“Doing something positive that helps others, whether it’s picking litter, making ecobricks or just talking to them makes a difference not just to them, but to you as well because you get that boost from knowing you’ve done something good.
“It also gives you something to focus your mind and energy on, which is something I’m seeing people find challenging with during lockdown because they don’t have work to take their attention.
“For people who work offshore in particular, they are going from being isolated on the rigs to being isolated at home and that’s a big change. Often people get through being offshore by the knowledge that they then have a few weeks of seeing people and going out, but that’s not the case – that sense of freedom has done.”
Mike has also partnered with Mental Health Aberdeen so that if he sees anyone in the group who needs urgent help, he can contact counsellors who can offer support.
“Helping people is where my passion is – and I want to try and help as many people as I possibly can.”