Mental health still priority

Mental health still priority

Western Australia’s mining sector is continuing to invest in mental health initiatives.

But the slowdown is changing how it’s done.

According to beyondblue, the national organisation raising awareness of anxiety and depression, investment in mental health programs has been maintained throughout the resources sector despite the challenging economic climate.

“Indications are that the large companies have well-developed initiatives which are now flowing down to subcontractors in the industry,” beyondblue’s Workplace Engagement Manager Michael O’Hanlon said.

“Improving workplace mental health is increasingly accepted as a core part of business from Board level down [and] staff are increasingly engaged.”

The changing mining sector has placed high importance on mental health awareness as the likelihood of stress and anxiety increases – especially as redundancies occur.

Mr O’Hanlon said changes in the sector had also prompted companies to think carefully about how they are investing in the mental health support of workers.

“The changes in the industry are driving more cost-effective and evidence-based workplace mental health initiatives.”

He said the most successful initiatives are those that are integrated into existing frameworks or processes so as to ensure sustainability – for example, integration into existing OH&S frameworks and inductions.

Founder of Perth-based company Blooming Minds, Tasha Broomhall, said that as budgets tightened there had been a decrease in extending training initiatives to employees outside of the leadership team.

“There is a focus on developing the skills of leaders and equipping them with the information and resources to influence and create a positive culture of mental health and wellbeing at their local levels,” she said.

“The most requested programs that we are currently running in this sector are the Mental Health in the Workplace for Leaders course and Leading Positively Through Change courses.

“A lot of stress from change can be minimised by appropriately supporting people and planning for the impact it can have emotionally, not just in terms of procedures. We have seen some great results from the courses and we believe lots of other organisations should also be focusing on developing this capacity in their leaders.”

Ms Broomhall also said that, as budgets tightened, the way companies were looking to undertake training had changed.

“The emphasis previously has been for in-person training, however, with tight resources, it can be difficult to have a leader out of the workplace for a period of time,” Ms Broomhall said.