After seven years working fly-in, fly- out, Sean Thomsen knows all too well the effects the lifestyle can have on your mental health.
Now the former Married at First Sight reality star is gearing up to share his experiences at Momentum Forum’s 11th annual Men in Black Ball at Pan Pacific next Saturday, in support of men’s health and suicide prevention.
A recent study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in May, found 28 per cent of more than 1100 FIFO workers surveyed from remote mining and construction sites in WA reported high levels of distress, most of them linked to missing special events, relationship problems, financial stress, shift rosters and social isolation.
“The guys up at work like to call them the golden handcuffs,” the Port Hedland FIFO worker told AAA Weekend.
“You get used to a certain lifestyle and it’s hard — especially when you have a family and you are used to that type of income and stability.
“I’ve seen a couple of breakdowns of co-workers of their marriages, divorce, people with mental issues taking months and months off work and suicide attempts.”
Thomsen, 34, who recently split with fellow Married at First Sight star Tracey Jewel, understands how the FIFO lifestyle has affected his love life.
“I’ve had a number of relationships end because of work and the effects of it,” he said.
“Trust issues come into it as well and I think it’s just not being there when you do have a fight or an argument with someone.
“It’s not being there to sort it out. You might have to wait a week or two and things can happen in those weeks you’re away.”
He also said while it was a tough topic to talk about, he was looking forward to sharing his story on the night after his own battle with depression in the past saw him seek help. Viewers of the controversial reality show saw a glimpse of his struggle when one particular scene saw him overcome with emotion and walk off camera.
“When I was affected and broke down, it was edited to not bring up the actual issue and the root cause of why I was feeling that way, which I was bit disappointed (by) to be honest,” he said. “Because it didn’t make any sense to the viewer ... they didn’t bring to surface or air the first part of the conversation where I was saying I had depression. I had to go get help and was on medication.
“I think events like this are really important because it brings it to the surface that you can actually talk about it, and it’s OK to talk about it.”
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.