Miners suffering mental health challenges
A research paper published by the NSW Minerals Council has found that addressing growing mental illness issues is a crucial priority for the sector.
The NSW Minerals Council launched the paper at the 2012 Occupational Health and Safety Conference, which recommends a comprehensive industry-wide approach to tackling growing mental health and illness issues, including the development of a ‘Roadmap for Mental Health’.
NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said that mining companies were doing a good job of managing mental health at an individual level and that it is now a good time to consider a collaborative, industry-wide effort.
“We lead the way on tackling mental health challenges, providing drug and alcohol advice, running stress management workshops and mental awareness sessions, and supporting men's sheds. We have the policies in place but we need to consider ways to link them into a wider strategy,” Mr Galilee said.
The 43 page Mental Health and the NSW Minerals Industry, prepared by the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, through Newcastle Innovation, reveals the impact of mental health on mining:
- An estimated average of between 8,000 to 10,000 employees experienced a common mental health illness like anxiety, depression or substance abuse over a 12 month period
- It is estimated that people from across all mining employment categories are affected equally, from managers and professionals through to machinery operators and drivers
- Estimated costs to the industry including lowered productivity are between $320 million to $450 million per year or around $300,000 to $400,000 for an average mine of 170 people.
“There is no single solution to mental health. It requires a strategic and comprehensive approach. Like any football club or netball squad, we need to tackle this challenge together as a team. It's only then that we will keep kicking goals in our management of mental health,” Mr Galilee said.