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Tradies, FIFO Workers, “Golden Handcuffs”, and Mental Health

I’ve recently had a few “Tradies” who are also FIFO workers as well as reading of difficulties in the mining industries, in particular Nickel field (and thinking about the “Golden Handcuffs” of the high salaries). This reminded me of how some years ago my professional association (the Australian Psychological Society) had a series of online adds showing how Psychologists can assist people in a range of scenarios.

However, there were not any examples of the sorts of clients I regularly deal with, namely men, tradesmen, and the like. (Not that tradespeople are only men, just the majority!) So, I wrote a story about a hypothetical guy who works in the building trade and how a psychologist could assist him.

Basically, the bloke who worked in the building trade was stressed, drinking too much and not had a break for a long time. On top of that it was before the issue of “the right to disconnect” had become a subject of discussion and he’d get out-of-hours calls or SMS’ from his boss about work related matters (which he felt guilty about if he ignored them).

The tradie went looking for a psychologist who had a bit of life experience, (e.g. was not shocked by a bit of occasional “colourful” language) and offered after hours bookings.

Basically, in short, the tradie, following work with the psychologist he; Reduced his alcohol consumption; Developed a friendship circle away from the workplace; Planned for a break from work and; Felt more comfortable ignoring out of hours SMS and phone calls from the boss.

Things have improved nowadays for FIFO workers (regardless of gender) in that we now have Telehealth covered by Medicare. So theoretically if the client has a GP mental health care (i.e. the sessions are subsidised by Medicare) they can have a psychologist session from the FIFO site via telehealth, before or after work. (Depending on shifts.) This is apart from any in-person consultations that may be held back at the Huntingdale office.

Nowadays I also have my appointments available via HealthEngine.com.au, with any vacancies staying online till about an hour beforehand (Handy if you feel you can’t wait till the next scheduled consultation).

However, for FIFO workers, there is also the problem of the “Golden Handcuffs”. This being the idea that FIFO workers get paid so much that they get used to the high wages and the ability to be able to pay for expensive “toys” (e.g. big cars, boats, motorbikes, expensive meals and alcohol, etc). But it can also mean extravagant overseas holidays, or things like private schools for the children (that might not otherwise be afforded), or multiple investment properties. However, if as may well be the case, there may be (in the short term) numbers of FIFO workers out of work, due to a loss of jobs in the Nickel industry, unable to afford private school fees, or repayments on the “toys” bought in the good times.

Admittedly there is unlikely to be any simple answers to, “Golden Handcuff” issues (and I’m not able to supply financial advice) it can still be useful to talk with someone a few steps removed. This is apart from any of the other potential issues referred to earlier, like the Tradie in the building trade, with problems with drinking too much, lack of a break, and a limited circle of friends.

So if you want to look at these sorts of issues, have a look around this website and if I look like someone who may be able to work with, ring the Business Support Office (M-F 8am-5pm) or book online via HealthEngine.com.au

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Burnout Prevention Break

Please note I will be on leave starting from Thursday 28th March returning to work Monday 29th April

  • My Business Support Office will be operating as usual Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm for booking or enquiries. 
  • Or book online 24/7 (for when I return) via HealthEngine.com.au

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