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Mental Health Week: Meet Gillian Lewis

11 October 2017

Fortescue’s chaplaincy program is available 24 hours a day to Fortescue team members, contractors, their partners and dependent children.

Fortescue’s chaplaincy program is available 24 hours a day to Fortescue team members, contractors, their partners and dependent children.

Our chaplains live and work on site and are there for a chat, to act as a sounding board or provide support during difficult times.

In recognition of Mental Health Week, we had a chat to Gillian Lewis who has been a part of the chaplain team since 2012.

Q: Tell us a little more about yourself and how you got involved with Fortescue’s chaplaincy?

My name is Gillian Lewis and I am one of eight Fortescue chaplains, where I have the pleasure of visiting all our sites in the Pilbara and also work in Perth, as required. I was born in Ireland but have lived in Australia for 34 years.

My background has been in the domestic violence and drug and alcohol sector and I have been a Fortescue chaplain for more than five years.

My passion is to celebrate the individual, their uniqueness and potential. Life is for living, sometimes a person can become overburdened and overwhelmed and I rejoice in the opportunity I have as a Fortescue Chaplain in holding out my hand as a gesture of support and love.

Q: What do the chaplains provide for the Fortescue family?

Chaplains provide pastoral care to all who come under the Fortescue banner. We offer empathy, support and care, whether it be through something as simple as listening or encouraging and empowering the individual to be themselves. We provide a safe confidential space where reflection of thoughts, feelings and experiences can be sensitively explored.

We also gauge the emotional, spiritual, and moral temperature of the company in order to advise management on emerging trends. 

Where necessary, we also encourage individuals to access professional assistance if required.  The Employee Assistance Program provides professional counselling for all employees, their partners and dependent children to help resolve personal and work related problems.

Q: How important is mental health and wellbeing?

It is the juice of life. Being well supports so many areas in one’s life, both personal and professional relationships. When we are mentally healthy we can form positive relationships, use our abilities to reach our potential and most importantly deal with life’s challenges.

Mental health and wellbeing is something that is so essential and needs to be a priority.  In our fast paced lives some people can neglect taking time out to access their life balance, and this can lead to stress which doesn’t help in their mental health and overall wellbeing. 

Q: What advice would you have for family, families or workmates of people living with a mental illness?

A mental health illness significantly affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with other people. Therefore, it’s important for family, friends or workmates to seek support wherever possible – you don’t have to do this on your own.

It is also important to be proactive in your own wellbeing, while looking out for the wellbeing of your loved ones.

Other things you can do include:

  • Normalise the situation. Just as people have many illnesses, mental health is one of them and taking the stigma out of it can be empowering
  • Be open to listening
  • Acceptance and encouraging your loved one to seek professional support
  • Awareness of your own mood and thoughts. Be aware and own them and seek help as you can become enmeshed in the situation.

Q: Any advice for helping to achieve mental wellness?

There are a number of proactive things that we can do to remain mentally healthy, including:

  • talking about or expressing your feelings
  • regular exercise
  • eating healthy meals
  • getting enough sleep
  • spending time with friends and loved ones
  • developing new skills
  • relaxing and enjoying your hobbies
  • setting realistic goals
  • joining a meditation or mindfulness program
  • talking to your GP, chaplain or a health professional if things seem tough.