While one in five Australians is affected by mental health issues, the number is different when miners. For miners, one in three will be affected by mental illness. There is a variety of reasons for this, from the machismo surrounding the industry to being located in rural areas, as well as exhausting shifts. It is the perfect storm for mental health problems.
The issue is a significant one and yet it’s not something that is addressed often enough. Australia employs hundreds of thousands of mining employees, which means that almost 80,000 of them will be dealing with some form of mental illness. There is far more to mental health than depression.
For miners, the risk of depression is double that of the average. Why? There are a lot of factors that contribute to depression. Increased stress levels play a contributing factor, but so does substance abuse, and a lack of sleep.
Anxiety can be debilitating. It isn’t sitting in the corner rocking back and forth, it can present in a variety of ways. It can induce panic attacks, an inability to breathe, and difficulty in carrying out your daily activities.
Fatigue is more than just feeling exhausted. It’s the complete absence of energy and motivation. Miners work long shifts, have very little social interaction, and are away from their families for extended periods of time. This can be challenging on the psyche and tends to have an impact on sleep cycles.
Miners face risk every day, so it’s no surprise that they feel under pressure to perform. Stress also triggers depression and increases the likelihood of someone turning to substances for relief.
- Substance Abuse
Whether it’s alcohol or ice (crystal meth), miners in Australia are struggling with addiction to combat the other mental health issues they are facing. This puts everyone’s safety at risk.
The danger of unchecked mental illness is its ability to break down relationships, alienate people socially, and increase the risk of suicide. Those at greatest risk of these issues are the fly in fly out workers.