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News Dec 1, 2021

Jacobs and the Royal Navy – Turning the Tide on Mental Health

We’re promoting and celebrating resilience by sponsoring four submariners to take on the world’s toughest rowing challenge.

HMS Oardacious

Jacobs and the U.K. Royal Navy’s unique historical connections date back several decades.

One of our predecessor companies helped develop the Mulberry Harbours used in the Normandy landings during World War Two and our engineers and physicists have supported the Navy’s nuclear submarines ever since the first boat was designed in 1958.

Now, we’re adding mental health and resilience to the areas we collaborate for mutual benefit.

Jacobs’ One Million Lives mental health check-in tool is being used by the Navy to champion resilience among service personnel, helping them to get a better understanding of their current state of mind and providing proactive strategies for personal mental health development.

To raise awareness of this joint campaign, we’re sponsoring the Royal Navy’s smallest vessel, HMS Oardacious, in the world’s biggest rowing challenge – an unsupported race across the Atlantic Ocean.

The boat’s crew of four submariners became the fastest serving military team to complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge on their first attempt in 2019 - 2020.

As platinum sponsor, Jacobs will help fund the crew’s next three entries into the annual 3,000-mile race from the Canary Islands to Antigua, starting in December 2022. As part of the effort to champion the issue of mental health, the crew has a target to raise $1.4 million for mental health charities by 2025.

“Jacobs and the Royal Navy have a very strong relationship which goes beyond business and includes a common focus in promoting positive mental health and resilience,” says Jacobs Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou. “Our two organizations are collaborating closely on sharing resources as widely as possible and creating an open culture of support for our people inside and outside of work.”

“The lessons learned by a crew taking part in an extreme sport such as the Talisker Challenge can be very instructive for anyone dealing with stressful situations,” adds Jacobs Vice President for Defence & Security Justin Goldberg.

HMS Oardacious team leader and Mental Health Champion for the Royal Navy Submarine Service, Lieutenant Commander Hugo Mitchell-Heggs – a recent guest on our If/When podcast – has also agreed to become a Jacobs Resilience Ambassador.

He shares, “We’re proud to be sponsored by Jacobs. It’s a company that truly shares our passion for challenging the stigma around mental health and making improvements both within our organizations and the wider community by influencing cultural change and advocating the importance of mental fitness as a tool to become more resilient, motivated individuals and teams in everyday life.”

Hugo has shared his insight into mental health through webinars and podcasts, drawing on his experience of taking part in the Talisker Challenge.

Paul Hendry, Jacobs Vice President of Health, Safety and Environment and leader of Jacobs’ professional mental health champions, praised his support for the Resilience Ambassador Network, a grouping of external strategic client organizations enabling Jacobs to create a community of practice for mental health.

“Hugo is an inspirational individual who has engaged our employees in enhanced mental health conversations through his distinctive perspective on the issue,” says Paul. “Sharing of toolkits and best practice with strategic clients helps us bring our culture of caring closer together and to find solutions to our mutual benefit.”

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is regarded as the world’s toughest race of its kind. Each team will complete more than 1.5 million oar strokes over the race.

More fast facts:

  • Crew members row for 2 hours, and sleep for 2 hours, constantly, 24 hours a day.
  • Each rower can expect to burn more than 8,000 calories per day and lose an average of 18kg during the crossing.
  • More people have climbed Everest than rowed an ocean.
  • Nearly $7 million has been raised for charities worldwide over the past four races.
  • At its deepest, the Atlantic Ocean is 8.5km/5.28 miles deep.
  • In rough conditions, rowers will encounter waves up to 40ft high.

For more on how Jacobs ensures employee safety and wellbeing and our wider Mental Health efforts, explore