Stressed, angry and unhappy? There is a cure for that...

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MindsPlus specialises in speedy, flexible psychology and counselling services for people in rural and remote areas. Consultations can be held over the phone or online, and appointments are generally arranged within 48 hours. All great news for mining families dotted across Australia and overseas. Here, MindsPlus director Jane Dodding, pictured left, and clinical psychologist Dr Dasha Bliss outline a real-life case study to show exactly how they the team is helping FIFO workers and their families across Australia:

Imagine this…

Keith is a 34-year-old man who lives with his wife, Tracy and they are expecting their first child in six weeks. They have been together for five years, married for three and he describes it as a "good" relationship. They talk a lot and make most decisions together.  This is a supportive relationship, however Keith is concerned he is not able to support his wife as much as he would like due to work commitments. 

Other family members are very supportive of Tracy, however he feels left out. He is also stressed about the prospect of being a father and the responsibility associated with this. He works on a mine in remote WA and as a FIFO worker, therefore he is regularly away from home. He has been working in this job now for 18 months.  He is unsure whether he wants to continue in the job once he has children. He enjoys his job, has some good workmates and is satisfied with the financial benefits of his position. 

He does report that some of the other workers have stirred him up about how he knows the baby is his, they say "who knows what she does while you are away?".  Although he is certain his wife is faithful, these comments have unsettled him. Also considering his work, he is worried he will not be present for the birth which is very important to him. He reports more arguments with his wife lately which he then feels guilty about. He is having trouble concentrating, not sleeping well, can’t be bothered eating, is grumpy, his mind is racing and he cannot stop thinking. He denies any drug use and only drinks socially, occasionally binge drinking, although he found he was doing this more often lately.

His manager has noticed a change in Keith, too: he has been unreliable; turning up to work and getting angry and impatient with others. 

So what does the manager do?

Well, the manager recently contacted MindsPlus seeking prompt support for Keith. We arranged an appointment the next day and the manager arranged for Keith to have time off work to attend the consultation. Keith chose to talk to the psychologist from his accommodation (donga) to protect his privacy. The consultations were charged to the company as part of their Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Assessment indicated that Keith was experiencing moderate levels of depression and severe levels of stress and anxiety.  Keith and the psychologist developed a plan together to address these issues. The plan included:

  1. Education and material about depression, anxiety, stress, and parenting.
  2. Strategies to manage stress/anxiety/depression, including: stress-reduction techniques; techniques for improving sleep; examining and changing self-talk and thought patterns; problem solving solutions around child birth; and identifying personal strengths.
  3. Exploring personal values and identifying future directions and goals.
  4. Providing online material to supplement therapy between sessions.

Keith reliably attended weekly appointments for four sessions. After two weeks he negotiated leave from work to manage his stress and depression. This allowed him time out to focus on his mental well-being, to be with his family, and be present for the birth of his child.  His therapy continued from home and progressed to fortnightly appointments as he became more relaxed and confident in his abilities to cope with the situation.

He diligently used different strategies between sessions to settle himself down when he felt angry. At the last session Keith reported feeling more in control and less irritable. He started drinking less alcohol (it helped him relax in the short-term but was actually causing more stress and problems overall). During his sessions he identified his strengths, clarified his values and goals and learned effective skills for coping with stress. These became useful tools to help him handle future challenges more confidently.

For further information about MindsPlus , or to arrange a consultation for yourself or one of your employees, contact 1300 312 202 or visiting www.mindsplus.com.au.


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