Tackling mental health myths in the resources sector

In an Australian first, new research from Griffith’s Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) aims to tackle myths about mental health among miners.

The study, being presented on Tuesday (August 6) at Opening Doors: The 14th International Mental Health Conference, compares the mental health and emotional wellbeing of men working in mining with men working in other industries.

“It has been suggested that resources sector employees may experience higher rates of mental illness than workers in other industries, and that this in turn may place miners at an elevated risk of suicide,” said the study’s lead author, AISRAP senior research fellow Dr Samara McPhedran.

However, she points out that much of the speculation about resources sector employment and mental health is based on anecdotal information rather than solid data.

“Our study in fact, found very little evidence of poor mental health or emotional wellbeing among miners. Mental health and emotional functioning among male resources sector employees were both comparable with men working in other industries.

“This doesn’t mean miners don’t face work-related stresses and difficulties; it just meanthat those experiences don’t necessarily lead to mental illness or elevated suicide risk.

Carefully targeted services

“The results imply that any policies, programs, and services being considered in the resources sector context may need to be carefully targeted to issues like work-family balance, rather than being based on assumptions of widespread, clinically significant mental health problems.”

The 14th International mental health Conference is being held at Outrigger, Surfers Paradise on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 August 2013.

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Contact: Dr Samara McPhedran, 0415 963 189