Don't wait to ask, FIFO workers told

WITH up to one in three fly-in, fly-out workers suffering mental health difficulties, suicide prevention organisation R U OK? is urging workmates to support each other before they hit rock bottom.

Noel Dyson

The organisation is launching a campaign to highlight the issue of identifying emotional danger in the workplace.

“Working away from family and friends inevitably takes a toll on people, especially if they’re dealing with issues at home,” R U OK? CEO Brendan Maher said.

“We need to remind workmates to watch out for the subtle changes that suggest someone isn’t coping so well.

“Sharing this campaign within your organisation – and championing it in a genuine, authentic way – is one strategy all team leaders can employ to foster positive talking behaviour between peers.”

Campaign materials including a range of posters, videos, a step-by-step flow chart to have a conversation, and toolbox talking points for managers to share with their teams.

The visual across the resources features three workers, two wearing high visibility clothing and one receding into darkness.

The scenario serves as a prompt to genuinely ask after each other more often.

R U OK? scientific advisor and lifeline executive director Alan Woodward said research showed men, in particular, needed to be encouraged to speak up when they were struggling.

“We know that people are more likely to turn to family, friends and workmates during times of stress, so it’s vital workmates are empowered to have open and non-judgemental conversations,” he said.

“It’s not about fixing someone’s problems – it’s about giving them the confidence and reassurance that they’re not alone, and – if necessary – being positive about the role of health experts in improving mental wellbeing.

The FIFO campaign is being supported by global helicopter services company Bristow.

Bristow human resources manager of the Asia Pacific region Keir Williams said the campaign was being launched at a critical time.

“While company executives are asking themselves what they can – and should – be doing to help support their employees through uncertain times, it’s also important that peers look out for one another,” Williams said.

“FIFO workmates are best placed to understand the impact and challenges of working remotely for long periods and therefore, best placed to support each other through that.”

The resources can be downloaded from ruok.org.au/afield

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