Fly-in fly-out workers are increasingly afraid to report mental health issues because they don’t want to be made redundant by struggling mining companies, a West Australian parliamentary inquiry has heard.

The inquiry into the mental health of FIFO workers was prompted last year after nine people reportedly took their lives over a 12-month period.  An interim report handed down in November found information about suicides among the FIFO community was unreliable.

But anecdotal evidence presented by families and mental health experts suggests FIFO workers were at higher risk of anxiety, depression and suicide.

Founders of support website This FIFO Life, Sue Crook and Julie Loveny, told the inquiry on Wednesday that there was rampant anxiety and stress across the resources industry because jobs were being cut.

Ms Loveny said the stigma of mental illness in the industry meant no one would speak up about their issues in fear of being made redundant.

She said there was a severe lack of compassion and misunderstanding towards mental illness, citing a recent incident when a supervisor told her suicide was "attention seeking behaviour".

"It's not that they have no understanding, it's that the understanding they have is dangerous," Ms Loveny said.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union has previously expressed the same concern.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

  • One of the issues surrounding mental health issues is that unlike physical disabilities which are visible, mental health problems cannot be seen and are therefore all too easily dismissed.

    Moreover, the stigma associated with mental health issues and the fear of being open about such issues is no doubt magnified within the engineering and construction sector by the masculine nature of the industry.

    In such environments, it is imperative that workers understand how and where to get (confidential) help. It is also important colleagues and supervisors are trained and made aware of issues surrounding mental health so that they can recognise any signs of trouble and understand how they should respond.

  • It's not only workers for struggling mining companies that are afraid to admit mental health issues – it's the big companies too.

  • I have said on many threads the mental issues in FIFO are a load of crap just done a Shut all ok no nutters among them. All I can say is give it a bone stop talking shit

    • Ian, I think you've missed the point raised.
      Bound the terms/conditions of employment, the employee is obliged to disclose any medication that they are using. People have a stigma regarding "mental illness" from the older generation that was naïve and oblivious of truth back in there day. Today, science and medicine have explored and discovered a heap of different mental health issues that are affecting workers in all industries and walks of life, with todays pressures of life. Think back and I'm sure when you were growing up, people had a guaranteed job for life, now days jobs last as long as a piece of string.
      New employees that are good at what they do, "are" scared/intimidated with disclosing any mental health medication the are taking due to backlash in our culture ("a nutter") when they are not.
      There is nothing wrong with a person that takes medication for mental health issues, as long as they take them as required. At least they have accepted what they have and don't living in denial.
      You'd be surprised at how many people are taking daily meds, to be able to work.
      As for being made redundant because of mining companies shutting up shop, that part of what happens now a days.

    • Ian, you could have flown around the moon. I reckon your the best at what you do.
      The rest of the world "modern, one that is", recognises mental health as a serious issue within the workforce and community.
      It does not mean that the person is "crazy", but understanding about the condition as a supervisor to manage a workforce that HR give to you, is truly a challenge.
      As for a "Coles job", I'm sure you or at least one of your clan shop there and I'm sure they'd be mighty pissed off if the shelves were not stacked. Someone has to do what is taken for granted and it's not demeaning for them to do it.

  • Brad I missed the point the point is this subject is as no fact try coles workforce. I have just been on a FIFO shutdown I just do not see the mental issues it is full of holes there is no real issues on FIFO in fact these people are less a nutter than stay home simply because they have to.

    • ian. You are a construction manager. You have not been on the front line for years. You are the last person anyone would tell if they were having problems.