Mental Wellbeing for FIFO and Regional Communities

18 DEC 2020

Life as a FIFO worker is unique. The shared working and living environment can lead to a stronger connection to colleagues, however it can come with challenges. Working away from family and friends can be tough, particularly during the holidays. When it comes to seeking help, it can be difficult navigating the reduced confidentiality of close communities, and often there is a limited choice of health professionals in regional areas.

Those in regional communities are often considered being down-to-earth, practical, resilient and independent, all of which are regarded to be valuable attributes, but this culture of self-reliance can also mean that people don’t ask for help when they really need it. It is vital to ask for help during tough times before things become too much. Remember that being strong does not mean being silent.

Lifeline WA training manager Lisa Jones and her team have visited many regional areas this year to deliver mental health training for frontline community workers. Here are some tips from Lisa:

Practise practical self-care

One definition of self-care is the ability to promote and maintain health, maintain health, prevent disease, and cope with illness without the support of a health care provider. Practicing self-care doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming. If you’re a FIFO worker, this could be spending some time in the gym after work. For farmers, it could be making sure you eat well and get enough sleep during the busy season. By practicing self-care, you are maintaining physical and mental resilience which enables you to cope better during stressful times. What are you doing that supports your mental health every day? Brush up on self-care here and identify one thing you can do this week.

Be proactive

It can be helpful to focus on what you can do, rather than what’s out of your control. Focusing on situations outside of our control often leave us felling helpless and lost. A good way to get started is to write down what is concerning you. Get it out of your mind and onto the page. If there are quite a few things, prioritise them and identify the most important one to start with. Brainstorm possible solutions and identify small steps on how to achieve them. If that feels overwhelming or you get stuck, a Lifeline crisis supporter can help you work though it on 13 11 14.

When you need it, seek help

Almost half of Australians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. Mental health is a continuum, just like our physical health, that can move from thriving, where people are satisfied and happy in their life, through to poor mental health that impacts our daily functioning. Our point on that continuum varies at different times in our life. When negative thoughts and feelings are lasting, causing distress, impacting our physical health and obstructing the things you want to do, it’s time to get it checked out. There are evidence-based treatments that can help and getting help early is very important as it linked to better outcomes. Unfortunately, 54% of people experiencing mental illness don’t access mental health care. We know there are very real barriers, including stigma and misunderstanding from others, so take it one step at a time. Recruit trusted friends, family, or helplines that can support you along the way. A GP (book a longer appointment) is a good place to start.

Look online

Online and telephone services can overcome distance and give you more choice in how and where to access assistance. One example is MindSpot, which offers free, therapist-guided online assessments and treatments for anxiety, depression, stress, and chronic pain. Head to Health has a good search function for digital resources. Key in a search term like “trouble sleeping” and see what comes up.

Please remember that there’s always someone there to listen on Lifeline’s 13 11 14, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes when we are strong for our families and community, we can neglect ourselves without realising. Make sure you take the time to care for yourself and be there for others if they need support.

Written by Lisa Jones

Image Credit: Photo by Phillip Flores on Unsplash