By Reg Howard-Smith, chief executive of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA
During the past 12 months I’ve seen an increased focus on mental health issues and by now most of us are well aware that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, with around one in five Australians estimated to experience a mental health issue each year.
I believe this means many people will be impacted by mental illness at some stage in their life be it directly or a friend or family member.
There is also a growing appreciation for how mental health issues may manifest in the workplace and the role all workplaces can play to promote wellbeing and address the risks of mental illness.
We all realise, or likely soon will be aware that the impacts of mental illness and poor wellbeing in the workplace are multiple and complex and can result in significant lost productivity and increased costs through workplace injury claims.
And, if left unaddressed mental health issues can contribute to safety incidents and can have significant adverse impacts on individuals and their colleagues.
I’m pleased to say the resources sector has long recognised employee wellbeing, including physical and psychological wellbeing, as important aspects of fitness for work. Employee Assistance programs are common across industry and companies undertake a wide range of workplace and community wellbeing initiatives to facilitate access to support and break down the stigma of mental health issues.
I cannot reinforce enough that fostering resilient and supportive workplace cultures can result in benefits not only for individuals but also for their families, friends and colleagues.
As part of the resources sector’s commitment to all elements of health and safety, CME has recently released our Mental Health Blueprint.
This blueprint is based on a document developed by the Minerals Council of Australia tailored to suit the Western Australian resource industry.
The Blueprint provides a framework for promoting wellbeing of the workforce as well as reducing the risks and impacts of mental illness. We recognise there is an important role for all workplaces to play in promoting wellbeing and addressing the risks and impact of mental illness.
The Mental Health Blueprint identifies key directions for the industry and recommends evidenced based strategies which can be applied at company and site level.
Ensuring everyone can go home safely and healthy each day is a top priority for all working in the resources sector.
We encourage all companies to utilise the Blueprint to guide continuous improvement efforts.
For a copy of the full Blueprint go to; http://www.cmewa.com/policy-and-publications/policy-areas/people-and-communities/preview?path=Mental-Health-Blueprint.pdf