R U OK? campaign tackles FIFO worker mental health support

Image: R U OK?

Suicide prevention organisation R U OK? has launched a new campaign encouraging FIFO workers to support one another before they “hit rock bottom”.

Up to one in three FIFO workers reportedly experience mental health difficulties and the campaign acts as a reminder that identifying emotional danger is harder than physical dangers.

The campaign materials involve videos, a range of posters, a step by step flow chart on beginning conversations, and toolbox talking points for managers to share with their employees.

Almost eight people commit suicide in Australia each day with R U OK? CEO Brendan Maher urging employers and business leaders to do more to foster workplace cultures that encourage conversations among workers about well being.

“Working away from family and friends inevitably takes a toll on people; especially if they’re dealing with issues at home. We need to remind workmates to watch out for the subtle changes that suggest someone isn’t coping so well,” he said.

Alan Woodward, R U OK? scientific advisor and Lifeline executive director, said research shows that men in particular need to be encouraged to speak up when they’re struggling.

“We know that people are more likely to turn to family, friends and workmates during times of stress, so it’s vital that 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 campaign is also supported by helicopter transportation services company Bristow, with HR manager of the Asia Pacific region saying the campaign is being rolled out at a critical time.

“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.”