Paul Spinks.
Paul Spinks. Contributed

Paramedic speaks on the impact of mental health

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?”

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