Beyond Blue’s National Roadshow travelled to the Pilbara in Western Australia in May, to encourage mine workers and locals to take action on mental health.
The three-week trip was organised in response to requests from community groups, industry organisations and local governments in the area.
Beyond Blue staff visited mining sites, camps and communities near BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Woodside Energy mine operations, where they talked about the importance of good mental health and how and where to get help and support, handed out information and answered questions about mental health and suicide prevention. The Pilbara Roadshow also attended a range of community events at schools, markets and sporting matches.
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said the Pilbara Roadshow was incredibly valuable, as it helped Beyond Blue engage with fly-in fly-out workers and their managers, connect individuals to support services and learn more about their experiences through the personal stories they shared.
“While more research is needed to say whether fly-in fly-out workers are more likely to develop mental health problems than the general population, there is no doubt these employees face particular risk factors for depression and anxiety such as social isolation and disrupted family life,” she said.
“During this trip Beyond Blue staff had many amazing conversations with FIFO workers and their employers, which gave us a deeper understanding of the risk factors. We were able to provide information to help offset these factors, and educate workers about what they can do to reduce the risk of developing mental health conditions. Beyond Blue resources proved to be of particular interest to this group, including the Beyond Blue Support Service and the Heads Up and Man Therapy websites.
“As this workforce is largely male, openly discussing mental health and sharing stories was also very important because this helps breaks down stigma, which we know can be a key barrier preventing men from seeking support.
“It was encouraging how many managers we spoke to who were committed to creating a mentally healthy workplace for their leaders and staff, and were eager to learn how they could assist workers who are struggling. The information on the Heads Up website about supporting colleagues in the workplace proved useful.”
Ms Harman acknowledged the organisations in the mining and energy industry who helped make this visit possible.
“The Pilbara Roadshow was made possible with the support of BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Rio Tinto Iron Order, Woodside Energy and facilities managers ESS Compass and Sodexo. All of the workplaces and communities we visited were extremely welcoming and we are honoured that so many people opened up to us about their mental health.”
Workers at BHP Billiton Iron Ore picking up Beyond Blue resources as part of a Pilbara Roadshow visit.