Story of a FIFO Workers that developed Depression and Anxiety in Australia
This is a story about John* and how working fly in fly out in the mines have had an effect on him and his mental well-being.
John has been working fly in fly out (FIFO) for the past three years in the mines. He is a tradesman and after he finished his apprenticeship he got the golden opportunity to be able to work in the mining industry. The excitement that he had at the being was like every other FIFO worker. The opportunity to go work in a position that paid thirty percent more than what he would be earning in the metro city meant he could buy the house he always wanted but also live like a king and be able to travel around the world and see new and exciting places and absorb himself in the different culture.
Lifes working in the right direction
A few months in John met his partner Rebecca*, and John thought his life was complete. He had an amazing paying job, sure it was hard working seven days a week, twelve hours a day, but being able to come back and enjoy the week he goes off to fancy restaurants he always wanted to go to, being able to spend that time with his partner was everything he dreamed of.
Having doubts and anxiety
Then the dream of working away became harder and harder, being away from Rebecca caused tension in their relationship. He was away, she was in the city, spending time with her friends going out. She was beautiful, other men noticed it too. He trusted her, but there was always that thought in his mind “what if”. The problem with that is not having anything up in the mining camp to do and keep occupied with, meant he spent his nights constantly thinking about what she was doing, who she was with and it started to make John anxious.
The feeling of being alone
John is not the only one though that is suffering from anxiety and depression though up in the mines. Majority of the workers in the Fly in and Fly out industry suffer from a form of mental illness as the work-life does cause a strain on them. Though the pay is great, thinking of whether feeling alone is worth and not having families around causes a strain on them. There is a stigma that FIFO workers have the world in their hands as their paycheck exceeds that of your average worker in the metro city. Though this is not the case. Last year, the census statistics show that the highest rate of depression and anxiety are workers in the Fly in Fly out industry.
Although there are facilities in which the workers are able to use in the camps such as a psychologist, seeing it as a taboo due to reasons that men are naturally strong and not suffer from these illnesses. This, in turn, makes the situation a lot worse for the workers in the mine as they do not know how to deal with their issues and just bury it further causing it only to get worse.
Not living the life you wanted
In John’s case, suffering from anxiety and depression caused him and Rebecca to have arguments constantly over the phone and when he returned to the city to see her the arguments continued. In the end, the tension caused too much of a distance between John and Rebecca that they ended up breaking up. If John thought he was alone before, he felt even more alone now.
It got John thinking, he said he was going to go travel and see the world, yet he never traveled anywhere. He stays at home when he wasn’t working. Barely seeing his friends from work to home and not living the life he always thought he would be when he got the job working away.
Choosing between work and time with family
John however, is one of the lucky ones, his position within the company is higher and he got into a position he was able to work in the city with the same paycheck he had while working away in the mining camp. Though he is one of the lucky ones, majority of the FIFO workers do not get this opportunity and have to make the choice, either sacrifice the amount of pay to be able to spend days with his family, or he will stay up in the mines and work to have the bigger paycheck yet sacrifice the time with his loved ones.
Companies are trying to figure out a way in which they are able to help their workers with their mental well being as they do understand it does take a toll on them. However, having a supportive group of friends and family also helps the workers as they need to have the understanding from their loved ones that their way of life is not easy and what they deal with on a day to day basis.