A note on mental health and the mining industry

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Mental Health Week is an opportunity for mining companies to look out for their employees who may need help.

One in five people between the ages of 16 and 85 experiences a mental health condition in any one year.

That’s not in a lifetime, that is every year.

The most common conditions are depressive, anxiety or a substance use disorder. Yet 54% of people do not access any treatment or support. These statistics astound me, not least because it was reported this week that two in three trips to a GP were for psychological reasons.

Let’s say there are 20 million Australians falling in to the above age range. Then there are four million people in Australia experiencing a mental health condition every year. And more than half of them don’t access help!

If we do a rough, “back of the envelope” calculation of the mining industry — which employs about 200,000 people across the country — then that’s 40,000 people not getting the help they need.

Whether it be through trying to tough it out, not knowing where to ask for help, or just a feeling of helplessness or isolation, the fact that two million people suffer in silence across Australia (and 40,000 in the mining industry) cannot be an acceptable number.

POLL RESULTS: How does the mining industry treat mental health?

Mental Health Week and the mining industry

Mental Health Week is a national week celebrated around World Mental Health Day on 10 October. 

Mental Health Day was founded in 1948 and now all states and territories of Australia have a local group, nominate a theme for that year, and host events. Organisations, business and individuals are encouraged to participate by hosting an event.

Hosting an event will raise awareness of mental health with your friends, your family and your team mates, and highlights the importance of seeking appropriate help if something is wrong.

It’s an excellent chance for organisations, management and supervisors to work with your team and ensure that each and every one of them is looking out for each other’s physical and mental wellbeing. Whether your team is small or large, it is up to each and every person to look out for each other.

FURTHER READING: Mental health in the mining industry: an expert response

The industry has for too long made the news for not seeming to do enough about the higher rates of suicide and mental illness it experiences. Let’s all work to turn it around - whether that’s just asking a colleague how they are doing or perhaps initiating a companywide policy change.

Change begins with each of us.

MPi regularly organises morning teas and lunches and Mental Health Day is one of those occasions for us.  If you are looking for any help, we have a list of organisations available that can provide support.  

Gail Rogers
Senior Consultant - Candidate Services & HR Consulting
Mining People International

gail.rogers@miningpeople.com.au

Gail worked in operational and technical mine site roles for 15 years and has been with MPi since 2002 in mining recruitment and executive search and eventually mining career guidance and human resources advisory positions. Gail’s 15 years directly in the mining industry, across residential, FIFO and CBD based roles, has given her a unique perspective into the industry.