New blueprint for mental health in resources industry

The Minerals Council of Australia has announced the release of a blueprint for mental health and well-being in the mining industry.

Launched last week at the CEO Health and Safety Forum in Melbourne, the document presents an outline for a mental health programs implemented by mining companies, in order help companies reduce the risks and impacts of mental health issues.

The blueprint was based on work commissioned by the NSW Minerals Council to the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

MCA chief executive Brendan Pearson said the development of the blueprint reflected the minerals sector's recognition that industry has a key role to play in addressing mental illness and wellbeing.

“Mental illness can affect workplace productivity through absenteeism and 'presenteeism' and if problems are left unaddressed, it can also have an effect on rates of the prevalence of accidental injury in the workplace,” Pearson said.

“This Blueprint spells out goals and strategies for the promotion of health, prevention of mental health problems and response to those in need.

“It also describes programs for supporting return to work, underpinned by an emphasis on robust evaluation.

“The Blueprint recognises that the support for workers in remote environments and their families is a key priority and ongoing challenge for the industry.”

According to the Blueprints directions and targets section, “it [the blueprint] is supported by actions that are recommended to support the implementation of the Blueprint in the minerals industry.”

Actions in the blueprint include a number of administrative actions under the headings of leadership; effective systems and policy; education, training and health promotion.

Actions also include promoting and supporting access to care, which largely refers to Employee Assistance Programs and Return To Work procedures.

Research and development also forms part of the blueprint actions, recommending partnerships between the minerals industry and research institutions to build the evidence for effective mental health strategies, as well as increasing our understanding of the prevalence, determinants and impact of mental ill-health in the industry.

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