Psychological wellbeing and help-seeking among fly-In fly-out employees in the Western Australian mining industry
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 10:25 authored by Philippa Milne
The psychosocial health outcomes for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers can been strongly influenced by whether or not they seek help and support. Yet there is an apparent puzzle whereby an increase in psychological distress can lead to a decrease in help-seeking. This may be due to an employee's heightened perceptions of mental health stigma, although research is yet to explain the underlying causes. Despite public interest and recent parliamentary inquiries into the mental health of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) employees in the Australian mining industry, there is currently little empirical evidence to help explain this issue. Concerns about FIFO employee mental health and anecdotal reports of increased prevalence in this group have precipitated some empirical assessments using valid measures of mental health symptoms. The importance of examining mental health among the FIFO workforce and what factors influence this, and those variables that subsequently explain help-seeking among FIFO employees has been highlighted by some previous research. Drawing on the Process Theory of Help-Seeking, the Theory of Planned Behaviour and the Jobs-Demands Resources model, this study surveyed the psychological wellbeing and help-seeking intentions of 629 FIFO employees in the Western Australian mining industry. A quantitative research strategy was employed, with a questionnaire survey used to collect FIFO workers' perceptions on adjustment, psychological wellbeing, stigma, help-seeking and job demands. The structural relationships between study variables were analysed to test the study hypotheses through the use of structural equation modelling (SEM). The thesis investigated (i) the mediating role of stigma on the links between adjustment, psychological distress and help-seeking, and (ii) the moderating role of job demands on these processes. The results showed that the demands of high-compression work rosters and long work hours affected how well FIFO workers could adjust and, in turn, contributed to psychological distress, signalling a need for prevention strategies to better protect the wellbeing of the mining workforce. The results also demonstrated that adjustment, psychological wellbeing and stigma all influenced employee help-seeking. This is a significant finding because it helps to predicate intervention and prevention strategies. In other words, the study contains practical implications for treating the psychological distress of FIFO mining employees, an area severely lacking in empirical research. Overall, the results of this thesis makes a contribution in terms of theory, research, and prevention and early intervention programs.