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FIFO workers and Australian Dads WA regional tour for men's mental health by JMH Group visits Geraldton

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Lachie Samuel will talk about mental health at a workshop in Geraldton this week.
Camera IconLachie Samuel will talk about mental health at a workshop in Geraldton this week. Credit: Supplied

A regional workshop coming to Geraldton this week will attempt to dig away some of the stigma surrounding men’s mental health in the FIFO industry.

One of the organisers — FIFO Mental Health Guy Lachie Samuel — will open up on how he dealt with alcohol abuse, attempted suicide and grieved the loss of multiple co-workers.

The free workshop in Geraldton on Thursday will be hosted by JMH Group and the WA Primary Health Alliance.

Psychological distress in remote mining sectors is considerably higher than Australia generally. An Edith Cowan University survey revealed 86 per cent of employers were found to be stressed due to missing special events, 68 per cent due to relationship issues and 62 per cent because of shift rosters.

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That’s why Mr Samuel welcomes the discussion and shares his own experiences surrounding suicide, depression and addiction during the regional tour of the FIFO Mental Health Guy and Australian Dads Network workshops.

Under a new industry-wide policy announced last month, FIFO workers are restricted to four alcoholic drinks per days while staying at worksite accommodation.

Mr Samuel said the consumption of alcohol on sites was extreme and in many cases not moderated.

“In 2010, we could buy cartons of full-strength beer on site; now it’s restricted to four mid-strengths,” he said.

The FIFO worker moved to WA when he was 19, earning a high income in the mining industry and wasting “a couple hundred grand in the space of five years” on drugs and alcohol.

Mr Samuel said in 2015 he attempted suicide. Since then he was a “work in progress” and aimed to become a more resilient man.

“But more importantly, a better father — which I am pretty proud of now,” he said.

Within three months of working on a four weeks on, one-week off project near Onslow, Mr Samuel said he saw two co-workers take their own lives.

“The reason I speak about it — essentially why I do what I do — is because I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it in myself, my partner and friends and I believe suffering isn’t necessary,” he said.

The regional tour will include a ‘Breaking the Circuit’ session where Mr Samuel discusses how the brain perceives unsafe situations and how to break that circuit to help manage stress.

“With the use of those tools you can make better decisions,” he said.

Mr Samuel and Australian Dads Network founder Liam Sorrell, who will also speak at the workshop, welcome everyone in the community, from FIFO, DIDO, shift workers to fathers, to join the event.

Secure your free ticket here https://jmhfifomentalhealthaustraliandad.floktu.com/#ticket.

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