Miners turn blue for depression

Mental health issues in mining have long been overlooked, but in an effort to buck the trend, mining contractor Redpath has joined forces with mental health charity beyondblue to raise industry awareness.

To mark the partnership the contractor has painted a 60 tonne truck blue and set a fundraising target of $50,000, donating $2.50 for every hour and tonne of dirt the truck hauls.

“Our bright blue truck is expected to work between four and five thousand hours this year, so we are aiming for a fundraising target of 50,000 dollars for beyondblue, which would be a fantastic achievement,” Redpath marketing and communications manager, Rhiannon Vines said.

beyond-blue-truck-2.JPGThe truck has already been nick-named Papa Smurf and is an attempt to educate workers that mental health in the mining sector is just as important as physical health.

Redpath general manager of metalliferous, Rory Burke said the ability to recognise and manage mental health issues is an integral part of the company’s operational strategy but stigmas around depression and anxiety remain.

 “Depression and anxiety in the mining community and in the general community is still not well known and understood. We need to not only provide avenues for employees to seek help, but we need to educate all employees on recognising the warning signs, not only in themselves, but also in their fellow workers,” Burke said.

Around one million Australian adults live with depression and more than two million have an anxiety disorder, beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said

“FIFO work practices combined with long shifts and remote locations are potentially a risk factor to depression and anxiety. We are asking people to be aware of the possible risks factors so they can take care of their mental health and seek help if necessary,” Arnell said.

Painting the truck blue is a symbol that will keep mental health at the front of miner’s minds, Arnell explained.

The truck will be put to work on the Murchison gold mine in central Western Australia, run by Silver Lake Resources.

Silver Lake’s chief operating officer Rob Humphryson says the company’s employees are also getting behind the campaign.

 “The work done by beyondblue to raise awareness and provide support to sufferers of anxiety and depression has been widely acknowledged for generating a better understanding of these diseases in society– and this understanding will inevitably lead to better outcomes for sufferers,” Humphryson said.

Australian Mining recently reported that taking mental health seriously is one way for mining companies to approve attrition rates and safety statistics.

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