Online counselling service offered for SA mine workers

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The Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee (MAQOHSC) is funding free online counselling services to South Australian mining and quarry workers in an effort to relieve mental health issues.

The committee will fund free online access to psychologists allowing workers and their families to source professional, anonymous advice on particular areas of concern.

The initiative will be run by Mining Family Matters, an Adelaide based support service for resource workers and their families. The organisation was established by FIFO mining wife Alicia Ranford seven years ago.

The counselling service comes on the back of research from the University of South Australia that found FIFO workers and their partners are more likely to suffer depression, headaches, sleep problems and anxiety due to extended separation and conflict between work and home.

Ranford said the findings emphasised how mental health is as important as physical safety for mine workers.

“There’s no doubt that most mining and resources companies have increased their focus on mental health in recent years, but it’s important to remain vigilant – especially in male-dominated industries where there’s often a stigma associated with admitting vulnerability,” she said.

As part of the initiative, SA mine and quarry workers and their family members will be able to email questions to Mining Family Matters, which will be answered by an organisational or relationship expert.

Names will remain anonymous but questions and answers will be posted on the Mining Family Matters website and Facebook page to aid other workers and their families who may have the same issue.

Ranford said the anonymous email Q and A format has been successful and beneficial over the years since Mining Family Matters was established.

“It allows people to ask sensitive questions from the privacy of their own home, without the stress of talking face-to-face, and often people are just relieved to learn they’re not alone in finding the mining and quarrying lifestyle tough sometimes,” she said.

“It also allows us to point people in the direction of other professional services for additional advice and support if it’s needed.”