NEW INITIATIVE TO BOOST MINING MENTAL HEALTH
Written on the 27 July 2015
A NEW partnership in the resources industry plans to equip South Australian mining and quarry workers with strategies to improve mental health.
The Rock Solid suicide prevention pilot program has been funded by Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee (MAQOHSC) and jointly run with Mining Family Matters and Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks.
Nine companies have already participated in workshops to reduce workplace stress, while a free guidebook has been made available to workers across the state.
MAQOHSC executive officer Leonie Caldarelli says Rock Solid has been designed to also help families overcome the challenges of working away or shift work.
"At MAQOHSC we are committed to supporting and promoting initiatives which contribute to improving the safety of mining and quarrying workplaces," Caldarelli says.
"This includes raising awareness about the importance of emotional resilience and wellbeing among workers.
"Most importantly, we found that the workshops significantly boosted the confidence of South Australian mine and quarry workers to identify suicidal behaviours."
The program follows a recent West Australian Parliamentary inquiry into the wellbeing of FIFO workers, and data showing suicide as the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 to 44.
According to Adelaide Hills-based organisation Mining Family Matters, the issue is particularly timely for the resources sector but more research is required.
Co-founder Alicia Ranford says although there is no specific evidence about the rate of suicide among mining workers, experts suggest work conditions can present a greater risk factor.
"At Mining Family Matters we've always been convinced that prevention is better than cure, particularly at times like this when there's so much uncertainty in the industry here and interstate," Ranford says.
"And of course the mental health of workers should be considered every bit as important as physical health and safety."
Free worksite posters are also available to SA companies as part of the initiative.