A survey of the Australia’s commercial fishing industry has revealed it is in the midst of a mental health crisis, with fishers experiencing mental health problems at double the rate of the average population.
The survey, conducted by Deakin University and the University of Tasmania, indicated that a third of fishers who were experiencing mental health problems had not reached out for support, citing that they felt health professionals would not understand them.
Fishers already experience higher mortality, disease and health risk factors as they often live in remote and rural communities with reduced access to health services. The study sheds light on higher rates of mental health problems in the industry due to frequent changes in environmental and political policies, increasing restrictions on fisheries, and the remote and physically demanding nature of the work.
Taroona Fishing, a family-owned fishery in Darwin, was first introduced to Mental Health First Aid® when a crew member died in a tragic accident two years ago. A Mental Health First Aid Officer provided initial support to the crew in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Now, Toni Hedditch of Taroona Fishing has become a trusted advocate through Seafood Industry Australia, to support workers in the industry to get help where needed.
“We all went through a Mental Health First Aid training course, which was really beneficial,” she said.
“It should go pair-and-pair with physical first aid. It’s just how to deal with people in crisis right there at the moment and how to maybe have some of those conversations if you can see someone’s not feeling the best.”
The industry has secured $1.5 million in funding over the next two years, to support the national roll-out of Seafood Industry Australia’s Stay Afloat program.
Nicole Richardson | firstname.lastname@example.org | 0487 656 352