Mining Company’s Mental Health Strategy Shows Early Positive Results

Image of a water body in Rural Australia.
3 Dec 15
by Andy

Mining Company’s Mental Health Strategy Shows Early Positive Results

The long-term mental health and well-being strategy being rolled for one of Australia’s premier underground mining contractors, Byrnecut Australia, is showing early but very positive signs of success, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (RRMH), Dr Jennifer Bowers.

“The Centre is rolling out its Minds in Mines program at two of Byrnecut’s WA sites. Early feedback and evaluation data from the first 200 employees after six months of program activity is very exciting,” said Dr Bowers.

“Perhaps most importantly, 99% of employees agree that mental health is a significant issue in their sector and that it needs to be addressed. A further 98% responded that having information on mental health and emotional well-being is helping them understand and deal with their own issues,” she said.

Acknowledging that mental health is a real factor in safety, productivity and employee well-being, Byrnecut retained the RRMH to roll out its Minds in Mines program at two WA sites initially – with a view to extending it to all its Australian sites.

“We’re delighted with the feedback and the positive effect Minds in Mines is having on our people,” said Peter Hallman, Byrnecut Australia’s Group Safety Manager.

“Safety is our priority at Byrnecut. We absolutely understand and accept that someone with a mental health problem is at a higher risk of having an incident. For us, Minds in Mines is about driving a culture shift. It’s about breaking down the “harden up” culture and we’ll only achieve this with ongoing education and commitment,” he said.

“A one-off presentation and a box of brochures spread around site won’t have the effect we’re now seeing at our sites.”

Peter Hallman said that the keys to the early success of the program at Byrnecut are the strategic approach, the complementary integrated program elements, repeat site visits, the straightforward no-nonsense language and approach during presentations and the accompanying printed material.

“Jennifer and John’s repeat site visits means they’re known, welcome and trusted,” he said.

“John Schumann’s (ex Redgum) toolbox talks and onsite awareness-raising performances are embraced by our people. His capacity to engage and educate a roomful of miners with humour, passion and showmanship is critical to getting the message across.”

Dr Bowers also pointed to early indicators of behaviour change, saying that an encouraging number of employees reported enjoying a healthier diet, drinking less, smoking less and exercising more.

“And, importantly, 83% of their people report that the Minds in Mines program makes Byrnecut a better employer to work for. That’s got to be good for everyone,” concluded Dr Bowers.