The Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (ACRRMH) is holding a forum in Perth today, focused on miner’s health and suicide prevention.
The Exploration 2 forum is looking at workers in the mining, resources and construction industry, in particular FIFO workers, and their need for special mental health ‘first aid’ programs, according to The West.
Speaking to beyondblue, they have previously told Australian Mining that “while there has been some work done with mining companies about the issues that arise from depression, there is no thorough research on the condition in that industry available at the moment.”
ACRRMH chief executive Jennifer Bowers added that while some companies were proactive about mental health issues on their remote sites, others were not as progressive.
"In the blokey world of mining and resources, too often mental health is stigmatised and not seen as a ‘safe’, one can’t help but wonder if mental health has even emerged as something for these companies to think about,” she said.
“Mental health is a big player on the OH&S stage in the mining and resource sectors but right now its name doesn’t appear on the program. This is clearly a matter to be addressed at the very senior level – owners, senior executives and indeed boards.”
According to beyondblue national workplace program manager Therese Fitzpatrick, beyondblue has been working with several mining companies of various sizes to raise awareness among their workforces.
“Both the managers and workers will how to approach these issues with their colleagues so they can get the help they need,” she said.
“Our aim is to make it okay for people to seek help and work out what support they need to get it.”
Fitzpatrick said the mining industry was beginning to realise how mental health fits into overall occupational health and safety.
West Australian mental health minister Helen Morton added that while the State Government is working on a suicide prevention plan, it is important for mining companies to have their own strategies.
The forum will run until tomorrow.