More than 800 fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employees working in some of Australia’s remotest mines will soon benefit from a new mental health program launched this week for mining company Macmahon. Resource Minds has been developed by Rural & Remote Mental Health and Macmahon is launching it throughout the company under the banner of Strong MINDS Strong MINES.
Resource Minds is designed to tackle the growing and often complex mental health challenges facing remote mining workers, many of whom are away from home for weeks at a time. The program is specifically designed for this workforce and covers a range of issues including the stigma of mental health, anxiety, depression, suicide prevention, relationships and financial stress.
This week, Resource Minds’ trainers started rolling out the program to Macmahon’s Project Manager HSEQT conference, where 25 managers will attend Mental Health for Leaders training. The training will help the managers to better support all Macmahon’s employees and identify the mental health and suicide warning signs to facilitate early intervention.
“Macmahon recognises that having a FIFO based workforce requires a proactive approach to preventing mental harm issues in the workplace,” said Macmahon’s Manager HSEQ, Kale Ross.
“To this end, we searched for mental health specialists who understand the specific challenges facing the FIFO lifestyle. As a mining contractor with a workforce across multiple projects, it’s important that we do our best to keep our people safe. Providing a comprehensive mental health program will provide a deeper level of support to help increase the mental wellness and resilience of our workforce.”
Starting in April, a series of mental health and suicide prevention Toolbox Talks will be rolled out to Macmahon workers at selected mines over the next 12 months under the banner of Strong MINDS Strong MINES. Macmahon will then explore further expansion of the program across the company including further mines. Resource Mind’s Manager, Tracey Inglis, said FIFO employees face multiple and complex mental health challenges but stigma remained the greatest challenge.
“Seventy-five percent of people with a mental illness experience stigma,” said Ms Inglis.
“Cultural change is required within the mining sector with commitment from management to mental health education, identification of champions and peer group support being vital to reducing the stigma associated with mental health.
“The Strong MINDS Strong MINES initiative by Macmahon aims to start breaking down some of the barriers associated with mental health stigma, encourages employees to talk to each about their mental health, seek help and look out for their mates. This demonstrates the company’s commitment to tackling mental health issues and supporting their workforce.”
The rollout of Strong MINDS Strong MINES comes at a time when new research is currently underway into the mental health of Australian FIFO workers by Rural & Remote Mental Health with the results to be used to further enhance their programs. Operating for more than a decade, Rural & Remote Mental Health specialises in supporting the mental health of some of Australia’s most isolated people, particularly within the mining, agriculture and indigenous communities.
For more information on Rural & Remote Mental Health, visit http://www.rrmh.com.au