Vale, Steelworkers to mine mental health data in the workplace
Study lead says not much is known about the connection between mental health and mining
Mental health issues are often buried in the workplace — but a mining giant in Sudbury is trying to uncover them.
Workers at Vale's Ontario operations are being asked to open up.
Over the next three years, they'll complete voluntary questionnaires and interviews about their mental well-being with researchers from Laurentian University.
There is no data on mental health issues in mining, he said, but he suspects mental health issues affect miners the same way it does every one else.
The program will consist of a large-scale, all-Vale staff survey of the company's Ontario operations.
"It will allow us to have a sense of the prevalence and the incidents of mental health and wellbeing-related issues," Larivière said.
"We are hopeful to get a huge, huge response rate. If things work out the way we all would like to, we hope to get a 70 per cent response rate."
In the minds of miners
Right now, about a quarter of disability claims at Vale are related to mental health — but it's unclear why.
Jody Kuzenko, who oversees Vale's production in Ontario, said Vale is spending $400,000 on the study.
It will be money well spent, according to the international president of the United Steelworkers Leo Gerard.
"Whether it's the stress of producing, whether it's shift work, there's all kind of things that create stress in the workplace."
Once the research is complete, it will be up to Vale to act on the findings and share them with the rest of the industry.
Larivière said one in five people will experience a mental health issue this year.