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Mental health and well-being in resident mine workers: Out of the fly-in fly-out box

Authors

  • Kristy N. Mclean PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia
      Dr Kristy McLean, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, 60 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, 4059, Australia. Email: kristy.mclean@qut.edu.au
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Dr Kristy McLean, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, 60 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, 4059, Australia. Email: kristy.mclean@qut.edu.au

Abstract

Objective:  To explore psychosocial issues perceived to impact the mental health and well-being of resident (non-fly-in fly-out) mine workers at a local mine in regional Queensland.

Design:  A descriptive qualitative study using semistructured interviews.

Setting:  The research was conducted on-site at an open-cut coal mine in regional Queensland.

Participants:  Ten miners (nine men) currently employed in workshop, production or supervisory roles.

Main outcome measures:  Self-reported issues affecting psychological well-being.

Results:  Participants' occupation and the surrounding context appeared to have both positive and negative influences on their well-being. Overall findings could be grouped into four key themes: (i) the importance of relationships; (ii) the impact of lifestyle; (iii) work characteristics; and (iv) mental health attitudes. While not without strains on mental health, in general, participants reported that their current situation was superior to their previous mining jobs. This was attributed to close relationships among locally recruited workers, respect for management practices and rosters that allowed adequate sleep recovery and family time between shifts.

Conclusions:  This study is the first to examine mental health and well-being in non-fly-in fly-out mining populations. It suggests that while some issues appear inherent in the mining occupation, personal and organisational support can help workers have a more positive workplace experience. Further work looking at more extensive comparisons over various mining contexts will greatly assist in the development of programs and support structures for rural and regional mine workers.

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