The Australian government has announced it is providing A$6 million in funding from its MATES in Construction initiative to support the mental health and wellbeing of the country’s workers in mining, construction, energy and manufacturing.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said MATES in Construction will work with the people of those industries to support mental health as well as suicide prevention for the fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in-drive-out (DIDO) community.
Hint noted that these workers suffer higher levels of psychological distress, including anxiety and depression, and that its data has shown 33% of FIFOs report high or very high levels of distress.
“Australian FIFO workers spend great amounts of time away from family, friends and loved ones throughout their working lives, which can cause mental health concerns,” Hunt pointed out.
“Our government recognises the strain FIFO and DIDO work can cause and we are committed to working with groups like MATES in Construction to ensure these workers have access to the support they need.”
This is not the first year the government has taken notice of the issue; it invested a record $6.5 billion in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2021-22, a figure that has doubled since 2012-13.
This has included $2.3 billion in the 2021-22 budget for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, which is heading a landmark reform of the mental health system.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said the program will help reduce the suicide rate in this population, particularly for men – who represent 75% of all suicides in the country.
“This program builds on the government's commitment to work towards zero suicides and reduce suicidal behaviour across the Australian population,” he added.
“In particular, the program aims to improve the mental health of workers in industries with a high male presence,” adding that it will use its existing networks and relationships within the construction and mining industries to deliver programs for workers as well as leaders, counsellors and families nationwide.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.
In addition, Australians looking for support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service any time via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au.
Those concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide can phone the Suicide Call Back Service at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.
Source: Ministers Department of Health