FIFO Focus director Sandra Lam joins Big Al as part of the REDFM series FIFO Life.
In part 1, Sandra talks about psychological issues and how they can effect FIFO workers.
Healing Mental Wounds
Mental health issues are a serious topic, particularly for FIFO Workers.
One of the major problems with mental health is people perceive ‘mental health’ simply as mental disorders such as depression and anxiety which can have such a big impact on wellbeing. But the true meaning of mental health includes the positive as well as negative aspects of how you feel.
The way you cope with the day to day challenges of life has a big impact on mental health. But do many of us actually have the tools, skills and capabilities to manage the everyday ups and downs in a constructive way?
How do we treat psychological wounds?
When children fall off a bike and scrape themselves, we teach them to treat the physical wound – wash it out, put some Mercurochrome on and maybe a superhero bandaid for a finishing touch. If it’s really bad, a lollipop might also be involved! But if a child’s feelings are hurt we often don’t teach them how to heal those wounds. You may remember phrases from your childhood such as “just ignore them” or “sticks and stones might break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Everyday psychological wounds such as rejection and fear of failure or often left ignored or untreated, but if we don’t learn to deal with these as children, by the time we grow to adulthood they have been left untreated for a long time and can manifest themselves into something more sinister and severe.
The issue isn’t that our parents were neglectful or cruel. It’s simply that human nature is prone to dealing with things that are obvious and simple to fix, like a scraped knee. Unfortunately, psychological wounds happen just as frequently (if not more often) than physical wounds and can lead to long term damage.
We need to come up with tools and systems to help heal psychological wounds before they cause us mental harm.
Key mental health issues for FIFO Workers
In terms of FIFO Workers, there are six key mental issues that we see frequently, that impact on mental health and happiness. These are:
- Substance abuse
- loneliness (sense of isolation)
- Sleep issues
These issues are often closely linked and can trigger each other. For example, prolonged exposure to stress can trigger anxiety. Substance abuse can be triggered when people ‘self-medicate’ to help them sleep – unfortunately often having the opposite effect. What if we taught people mechanisms for reducing their reaction to stress and relaxation techniques to help them get the sleep they need in a healthier way. I’m sure we would see an impact on some of the deep seated issues.
When it comes to reducing psychological harm and improving our feelings of mental wellbeing, we need to firstly pay attention to the psychological wounds that chip away at our mental health, and arm ourselves with the tools and techniques to address these. Learning techniques to increase your mental resilience can help heal these wounds and lead to better mental health outcomes and a more enjoyable life. It’s like Mercurochrome and a lollipop for the mind.