By Sarah-Jane Aston
A new FIFO mental health support website This FIFO Life is hoping to put positive mental health on the agenda of work places, communities and government.
The new online resource, covering everything from relationships to how to manage redundancy, has been developed to provide support and information for FIFO workers and FIFO families who might be struggling.
Julie Loveny, who is the co-developer of This FIFO Life said nine FIFO workers have taken their own life in the last 12 months, and around one person a day commits suicide in WA.
“It’s higher than the road toll,” she said.
“If we’re talking about stigma, if you think about the amount of publicity and attention and funding that is given to try and prevent, you know, deaths on the road, compared with our awareness and understanding and initiative to target suicide prevention, there should be a national outrage at the suicide statistics.
“I think we’re just at the beginning of people beginning to see, wow, this is a major issue,” said Ms Loveny.
Ms Loveny, who is also a mental health consultant, said many FIFO workers do not have the awareness or the training to recognise the signs of poor mental health, or to know what to do if they are finding it hard.
“So many people are struggling with anxiety, depression and panic attacks. It’s not obvious like a broken ankle,” said Ms Loveny.
Isolation and loneliness are also some of the most common mental issues faced by FIFO workers, says FIFO families’ director and founder Nicole Ashby.
Ms Ashby said that not all workers suffer from these kinds of problems but when rosters are quite long and people spend more time away than at home these issues can develop.
“Isolation on a camp and a regimental lifestyle can be very challenging for some people,” said Ms Ashby.
“It is ok to ask your mates, are you ok? If someone is a bit down it’s ok to ask, are you ok?”
Ms Loveny hopes to send out positive messages about mental health by taking a strength-based approach to communicating.
“I hope it will provide information to raise awareness, promote and support good mental health,” she said.
She emphasised that while some people struggle, many people work with the positives.
“This is focusing on the positives. How do we make this work, you know FIFO is here to stay.”