29 Oct

Stress in FIFO mining

Over the past few years, the issue of increased stressed and depression for some working as fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) miners has become a key topic of discussion in Australia.

As many mines throughout the country heavily rely on FIFO employees, the concerns of increased stress and depression are important ones to address. While FIFO is by no means are problematic form of occupation – many miners past and current will vouch for this – for some it can have a toll they likely didn’t imagine possible when they first set out on it.

Causes of stress and depression

FIFO is a demanding form of employment, regardless of relationships or mental well being. 12-hour days are the norm, the and the number of days on vs days off tend to change depending on demand. So you may do seven days on, seven days off the first time around, but the next time could be two weeks on, one week off.

In longer stints, you could be expected to work four weeks straight before having a week or two off. While those weeks off are a fantastic reward, it does not stop four weeks of 12-hour days from having their challenges. Add to this being away from family and friends, as well as the oft-isolated locales of mining towns, and this can culminate in a stress or depression-inducing emotional state.

One of the key concerns can come when someone who’s already suffering from a mental disorder such as clinical depression enters the FIFO profession. For those suffering from clinical depression (or any other form of depression), working as a FIFO miner could be detrimental to their well being. But this applies to any job that would similarly require them to be away from loved ones. Even for employees who don’t suffer from any form of depression, long stints away from home have the potential of causing long-term effects.

Commitments also play a role. The mental and emotional impact FIFO can have on someone who is married with kids can be substantially different to someone who is single and has no specific commitments.

Knowing when the job is getting to you

Regardless of the type of job, each one has the potential of causing any number of emotional responses for workers, as well as possibly exacerbating current mental disorders someone could be dealing with it. Potential signs that your job could be affecting your mental well being include:

An unusually high level of stress
Almost any job has stressful moments, but there is a line between an expected amount of stress and extreme levels of stress. If you find yourself overwhelmed on a consistent basis, if the stress and panic is causing shortness of breath (the potential start of a panic attack), or if you find yourself becoming uncharacteristically under circumstances that normally wouldn’t, these are all signs that you are overly stressed.

You no longer enjoy your job
If you wake up in the morning and the thought of work causes you tense up or triggers some emotional distress, these could be a couple of signs that you no longer enjoy your job. These strong emotional reactions need to occur more often than they don’t. So if you find your job leaves you feeling miserable more than 50% of the time, then that’s a clear sign you’re unhappy.

A lack of motivation
One sign of depression is a lack of motivation. If you’re feeling apathetic and have little-to-no emotional investment in what you do, this means you’re lacking motivation. Not only at work, but in your day-to-day life outside of the workplace. You need to be mindful when this happens. If you find your motivation continues to drop, then it could be the beginnings of depression.

What kind of person were you when you started your job? Were you bubbly and outgoing? Introverted but optimistic? If you find you no longer feel this way, there’s the possibility your job could be having a bad influence on your life. There can be plenty of other contributing factors to what makes us sad, but you should sit down and determine if your job makes you feel better or worse about yourself. If it’s the latter, then it may time to reassess your current employment. Because sadness can eventually worsen and turn into complete depression.

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