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Mining must formally recognize mental health concerns

Early detection is the key to a better outcome when dealing with mental health concerns.

The World Health Organization has confirmed that mental and substance use disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide.  They have also concluded that about 800,000 people die by suicide every year and is the 2nd leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds.

Closer to home, Vale released the results of a four-year Mental Health study of their own employees.  In this research they reported that 50 per cent of their disability claims and long-term disability claims were due to mental illness with the majority of them being as a result of depression. 

While we work towards reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness it’s important to remember that everyone has their own unique level of mental health just as we all have our own unique level of physical health. 

Mental illness should not be a term that we are afraid to use or attach to someone’s health.  It’s not shameful or a sign of weakness to be experiencing a mental health problem or a mental illness. There is no time to “beat around the bush”, it’s time to call it what it is “MENTAL ILLNESS” and everyone can be affected (one way or another).

As a Certified Wellness Expert and National Mental Health First Aid Instructor I am exposed to the mental health and wellness challenges of individuals every day.  It can be frustrating to witness individuals struggling with their mental health and wellness when there are life-style habits and training that can significantly contribute to the success of someone’s overall health.

Not too long-ago mental health training wasn’t even on the radar of employers and workers, let alone part of a health and safety program.  However, after meeting hundreds of workers and providing a variety of mental health training programs across Northern Ontario, it has become clear that the majority of the workforce is ready to make workplace mental health programs part of their health and safety culture.

Over my 25 years in the mining industry, this is the first time this subject is discussed.” Was a comment I received from a newly certified Mental Health First Aider. “I’ve just realized that for the past 20 years, I’ve never been fully qualified to work as a Supervisor without this mental health training.” was another comment.

Although the future seems bleak when it comes to the mental health of our society, there is a glimmer of hope.  Just like most physical illnesses “early detection is the key” to a successful outcome and the same is true for most mental illnesses.  The quicker someone can identify that they are struggling with their mental health, the quicker they can take necessary steps to reduce further harm and recover fully. 

Furthermore, since it is also much easier to prevent a chronic illness than to recover from it, making a conscious effort to focus on making mental health and wellness a priority with a sense of resiliency and mindfulness might be the key to changing the landscape of our mental health crisis.

If you want to learn more about mental health and how to support someone who is struggling with a mental health issue, it’s best to seek out specific training that can provide you with those skills.   The cost of training is far less than the human cost of disability or loss of life.

Together, we can change the trajectory of our mental health crisis and be witness to a society that no longer experiences the stigma associated with mental illness.

To find mental health support that is in your community visit

Lisa Lounsbury is the founder of New Day Wellness Inc. , a Corporate Wellness Company.

She is also a National Mental Health First Aid Trainer.