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NSW mining supporting mental health in the resources industry

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The NSW Minerals Council has released a blueprint for mental health and wellbeing in the mining industry.

The new guide was developed to address mental health and wellbeing of workers in the state's mining sector, and was produced by the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

It comes just days after a new mining health and safety centre was launched in the region.

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said "the most important thing that comes out of our mines are our employees. That’s why the NSW mining industry is working towards world’s best practice to address mental health problems".

"While research suggests mental health issues in our industry are no more prevalent than in the community more broadly, we recognise that the nature and composition of our workforce means implementing pro-active measures at industry level can make a real impact," he said.

However, recent studies into the mental wellbeing of FIFO workers have shown that stress, anxiety, divorce, drug and alcohol use and a sense of helplessness are prevalent among the workforce, prompting calls for companies to spend more on protecting mental health.

The research by Lifeline WA and Edith Cowan University psychologists, found a number of issues affecting FIFO workers’ mental health.

Workers reported suffering from high stress when working away, particularly for those with young children, disrupted sleep and fatigue from long shifts, feelings of vulnerability on site and a sense of powerlessness when away from home.

The anonymous online survey of 924 fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out workers showed a higher prevalence of psychological distress among FIFO workers, compared with the general population.

Galilee went on to say "the blueprint released today will provide companies in the industry with guidance on how to promote being mentally healthy and respond early and effectively to reduce the impacts of mental ill-health".

The blueprint has been welcomed by the NSW Mental Health Commissioner, John Feneley, who stated that "this is an important issue that needs to be addressed by all industries; it is wonderful to see NSW mining getting on the front foot and taking measures to address these challenges".

Galilee added that ACARP has also provided $350 000 in funding for research into mental health.

The blueprint was developed off the back of the 2012 Mental Health and the NSW Minerals Industry report.

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