Open Cut » Health and Safety
The aim of this project was to develop, implement and evaluate Health-e Mines, a world-first online platform specifically developed and tailored for those who work in the Australian coal mining industry, www.healthemines.com.au.
Mental health problems are common, with one in five people within Australia meeting the diagnostic criteria for mental illness every 12 months ABS, 2008. With previous research highlighting that mental health, alcohol and other drug problems in the mining industry were at least equivalent, if not higher, than the general employed population. This evidence highlighted the need for the development of industry tailored innovative approaches to increase access to support, and that the industry may benefit from a coordinated approach to address both mental health and alcohol use.
The first step of this project involved consultation with potential end users to better understand industry-specific needs and factors that may influence the uptake and use of the Health-e Mines portal.
Key features of Health-e Mines include:
- A service locator function - to tool that can facilitate access to local professional support services;
- Fact sheets - evidence based resources that provide information about mental ill-health, drugs and alcohol, and the relationship between the two;
- Self-help tools - free to access tools that include tips and strategies to manage mental health problems and drug and alcohol use;
- Mental health quiz - one of the core features of Health-e Mines which provides users a platform to complete a brief survey and receive immediate feedback based on their responses, as well as the recommendation of programs that meet their own individual needs;
- Supporting others - information for supervisors and workmates to help identify signs of mental ill-health in the workplace, and how to approach and address when identified; and
- Treatment programs - A range of evidence based treatment programs for the treatment of mental ill-health and problems with drug and alcohol use.
Health-e Mines was implemented across four pilot coal mining sites within New South Wales and Queensland. The implementation involved a member of the Health-e Mines team providing a live demonstration of the core features of Health-e Mines, including how to navigate the website, types of content, and an introduction to the mental health quiz and the types of treatment programs available.
The levels of psychological distress observed highlight the importance of an industry focus on mental health and well-being. The considerable uptake and positive feedback regarding Health-e Mines in the current study clearly demonstrate both the acceptability and feasibility of using online approaches to address mental health within the mining industry. The potential returns on investment associated with the implementation of effective workplace action, both in terms of increases in employee productivity, and intangible benefits such as employee wellbeing and morale, highlight the importance of wider dissemination of online mental health programs within the industry.