Study highlights mental health and well-being concerns of FIFO workers and their partners

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A new research study into the mental health and wellbeing concerns of FIFO workers and their partners in Australia found that many FIFO workers experience difficulty in adjusting between the responsibilities of their on-shift and off-shift lives.

Workers revealed that absence from their family created relationship strains beyond feelings of loneliness, including frustration at missing out on significant family events and being unable to respond to domestic emergencies.

Researchers from Kings College London and CQUniversity Australia conducted the qualitative study published last week in the BMJ Open Medical Journal.

Study author, Kristie-Lee Alfrey explained the challenges that FIFO workers go through.

“One respondent summed up the challenge of maintaining bravado in a male-dominated industry and then moving home to become a supportive, caring husband,” said Ms. Alfrey.

“Partners often face an extra burden of domestic duties and many are effectively ‘single mums’ during the on-shift periods.

“Even after returning home, workers face a process of renegotiating domestic roles and responsibilities.”

Several survey participants said they are concerned about their partner’s fidelity. Others reported anxiety and depression due to feeling of isolation.

“Workers and partners generally felt unsupported in negotiating health and wellbeing problems,” said Ms. Alfrey.

“Due to stigmas surrounding mental health issues in mining, some workers were concerned that they would have a ‘black mark’ on their work record if they drew on employer-provided support services.

“We recommend that FIFO employers should emphasise the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, maintain transparency regarding potential challenges, and offer professional support for managing multiple social roles and effective communication.”

Dr. Benjamin Gardner from King’s College London, Dr. Amanda Rebar and Professor Corneel Vandelanotte co-authored the study.

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