AMSJ » 4 Ways to Look After Your Mining Colleagues

4 Ways to Look After Your Mining Colleagues

mental health mining

Being in the mining and resources industry, there is doubt you have heard about, spoken about or even experienced first-hand, the dangers the industry has on your mental health. FIFO workers are high-risk when it comes to depression, and every two days in Australia, one person in our industry dies by suicide. Mental illness can happen to anyone, and everyone is at risk in this industry, which makes it all the more important to look out for the people we work with. One conversation could save a life. It’s as simple as that! Because we work closely with a select group of people in most cases, it’s up to us to ask the question “Are you ok?” if you think something might be the matter.

The signs of mental health problems aren’t always serious. It is often the smallest changes in people that we should take notice of before they become more serious.

What To Look For

Often the symptoms can be very difficult to pick, or could also mean something else, however the best way to find out if you see the signs, is to ask if everything is ok. You should look for the following things:

  • Any noticeable change in behaviour
  • The person may be withdrawn – paying less attention or giving less input to meetings,
  • less social interaction.
  • It might be a change in mood,
  • There may be obvious errors in their work

Although these things aren’t a definitive sign that they are suffering from a mental health condition  ( potentially depression), it’s a good place to start asking if they are struggling.

How Can  You Help?

R U OK? Organisation has developed a simple yet very effective strategy to assist you in asking the right questions to work out whether someone needs your support.


  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach.
  • Help them open up by asking questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?”
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”


  • If they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.
  • Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.
  • Avoid a confrontation.
  • You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”


  • Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
  • Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them.
  • If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence.
  • Encourage them to explain: “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
  • Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.


  • Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
  • Ask: “How would you like me to support you?”
  • Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
  • You could say: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
  • If they’ve been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”
  • Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.


  • Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling with their mental health, follow up with them sooner.
  • You could say: “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”
  • Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
  • Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.


Are you thinking about suicide?
You are not alone. Help is available.

These services are available to help you now:

Lifeline: call 13 11 14, use online crisis chat or read their website for self-help tools and more information.
Suicide Call Back Service: call 1300 659 467, register for online counselling or read their website for practical tips and information.
Kids Helpline: call  1800 55 1800, use web or email counselling or read their website for info and stories.
MensLine Australia: call 1300 78 99 78, register for online chat counselling or video counselling or read the tools and information.

Read more Mining Safety News and keep safe to work.

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