Para­medic speaks on the im­pact of men­tal health

Central Queensland News - - NEWS -

QUEENS­LAND para­medic Paul Spinks spoke to a crowd of more than 300 Glen­core work­ers in Cler­mont on Wed­nes­day, as well as in Tieri on Tues­day, about the im­pacts of men­tal health.

Mr Spinks is a para­medic who, through his work over the past 16 years, has iden­ti­fied men­tal health as be­ing a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in the call-outs he at­tended.

This has led Mr Spinks to seek to raise aware­ness around the im­pacts of men­tal ill­ness and the need to sup­port those who are suf­fer­ing.

“As paramedics we deal with the worst-case sce­nario with men­tal health, which is self-harm, sui­cide and drug psy­chosis – in fact it is like it’s al­most 80 per cent of my work now,” he said.

“Peo­ple think we run around all day with our siren lights on go­ing to car ac­ci­dents, the re­al­ity is most of our time is go­ing to psy­chosis, men­tal health and dys­func­tional fam­i­lies.

“One in two of us in this coun­try are de­pressed, 35 mil­lion scripts have been is­sued for anti-de­pres­sants in Aus­tralia in the past 12 months.

“It’s be­come a real per­sonal mes­sage for me and I just feel like it’s a story that needs to be told to cor­po­rate Aus­tralia.”

Re­search has shown higher rates of men­tal ill­ness among the min­ing com­mu­nity, with the Med­i­cal Jour­nal of Aus­tralia find­ing that 28 per cent of those sur­veyed in the in­dus­try were suf­fer­ing high or very high lev­els of dis­tress.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Spinks, the rea­son be­hind this is the in­creased iso­la­tion and dis­tance from re­la­tion­ships.

“It’s the case for all of us, it just es­ca­lates when we get into min­ing,” he said.

“It just means we have to work three times as hard, it means we have to go into min­ing with a plan, we need to go in with an en­try strat­egy and exit strat­egy, we just need to be so much more proac­tive.

“If we go out and iso­late our­selves from our fam­i­lies and our homes and go into the min­ing com­mu­nity think­ing ev­ery­thing is go­ing to be OK it’s prob­a­bly not. These are the things we must change.”

Mr Spinks said the main mes­sage he wanted to get across was “get in early and get help”.

“I al­ways say to au­di­ences at one end of the scale we are our most happy and at the other end we are our most sad and I call it the spi­ral of life,” he said.

“We are all on the spi­ral, it just de­pends on where we are pre­pared to in­ter­vene.

“Sadly, es­pe­cially men do this re­ally badly, we get on the spi­ral and we just try to cope and cope and cope and then all of a sud­den we are at the doc­tors, on pills and not manag­ing our men­tal health, en­ter­ing what I call the black hole where peo­ple don’t see their fam­ily or kids any more and think about do­ing some­thing hor­ri­ble to them­selves.

“The bot­tom line mes­sage is to get in early and get help.

“Where do you sit on the scale? What are you do­ing to look af­ter your men­tal and phys­i­cal health?”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Paul Spinks.

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