Mining FIFO workers and mental health

I read an article today on Fly-In, Fly-Out (FIFO) workers on The Conversation This article outlines the risk that FIFO workers have of committing suicide and also of the risk for mental health issues.  One of the motivating factors of starting Insite Psychology was when I initially heard about the House of Representatives enquiry in FIFO practices  and the issues such as risks of depression, anxiety, suicide and family discord were noted as an issue for men and women who were working in the mining sector. As this mode of working has proliferated there has been greater demands placed on communities and especially on casual mining workers keeping their jobs.  I believe that a small part of the solution is to provide adequate psychological support to workers in FIFO roles so that they may be bale to function in the best way possible both whilst they are away on work and when they return to their families.

The reality is that many people suffer from depression, anxiety and high levels of stress in their lives and FIFO workers are no exception. The difference, however, for FIFO workers is that unlike other workers, they may not be able to seek adequate psychological assistance due to distance and the preference to use home times to catch up with family, rest and home duties. Even if FIFO workers are able to seek assistance from a psychologist when they are at home, this could tend to be inconsistent, due to having to skip appointments when away on roster and as a result the continuity of care is missed and workers may start to feel their symptoms come back.

The above is not to say that FIFO work causes any of these issues, but that maybe some workers enter the industry already with underlying depression or anxiety which is triggered by stressful work, long hours and family isolation. In saying this I have personal experience knowing people who have worked at the mines in FIFO roles stating that they are looking for a change in their lives and that FIFO work can give them that, but at the same time they don’t recognise the changes that they may have to make or their expectations may not be met and as a result they can become depressed.

Insite is able to offer psychological assistance to FIFO workers even whilst they are working away, all that this requires is either a telephone line or internet connection. As a result workers are able to experience a continuity of care, but also they are able to use the time that they have at home for the things that they need to, rather than having to attend appointments and cut into valuable home time between rosters.

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