Mental health issues are as relevant to mining as they are to workers in any other Australian industry.
Health has a significant effect on the personal safety of miners and the colleagues they work with. Any drop in focus, concentration or performance increases the risk of accident and injury.
A recent study conducted by global market research firm TNS, distributed by anxiety and depression support organisation Beyond Blue, states that nine out of 10 Australian employees believe that a workplace that contributes positively towards their mental heath is important to them. But only half of those say they work in a positive environment.
Those who said their workplace had a negative impact on their state of mind were three times more likely to take sick days due to mental health problems, compared to the other workers.
Research found that stigma was still present in many places, especially among male-dominated industries such as mining.
The report said Queenslanders were the least likely to report that their workplace was a positive environment for their mental health, while workers in Western Australia were the most likely.
TNS’ study was released just as Beyond Blue and the Department of Health launched the Heads Up campaign, aimed at encouraging business leaders to take action on mental health in the workplace and give it the same priority as physical health.
An interactive guide was also launched for companies to help them come up with a tailor-made mental health plan.
Many companies from the mining sector have jumped on board with Beyond Blue’s campaign. Downer Blasting turned heads and raised awareness of the issue by painting a truck bright blue at its Jellinbah mine in Queensland, raising nearly $3000.
Beyond Blue firmly believes that companies that provide a positive environment for workers demonstrate improvements in productivity.
“The mining lifestyle, which includes travel to remote locations and working long periods away from home, can negatively affect the mental health of workers,” Beyond Blue CEO Kate Carnell said.
Beyond Blue chairman Jeff Kennett added: “We have a long way to go with workplace mental health but I encourage employers and managers to log on and develop a new action plan.”