Mental health and mining

Those of you in the mining industry know that you have to go for an annual medical exam to see if you are physically fit to work. They check things like your hearing, eyesight, blood pressure and even do X-rays to check if your lungs are okay. Many of you may even be acquainted with the RFA aka the step-test which is part of the physical exam. After you pass all these you are then fit for the mine. But at no point (at least in my experience) do they check if you are mentally okay. That is up to you to sort out. Let's look at a few things that might affect your mental health at the mine:

1. The workload

Things can become quite intense at certain times of the year. For geologists, it would typically be modelling season and budget time. For the safety department it would be when there is an external audit. Every department experiences this.

2. The pressure

There is always a target to be made and if it doesn't happen then you start feeling the heat. I have found that the end of the financial year has people stressed big time, because there is an annual bonus at stake.

3. Accidents

Nobody wants to think about this, but accidents do happen in mining. When a life is lost, and it's somebody you worked with, it will definitely take a toll on your mental health. Have you experienced the collective grief of a mine when there is a fatality? It's horrible.

4. The culture

Some mines are stressful to work at simply because of the culture. A culture of micro-managing employees or belittling them can break even the strongest. Where people are not treated as human beings, you will find the source of much angst.

5. Work-life balance

If you have to be on standby at night or on the weekend, you will know that your phone becomes your master. The closer you are to production and engineering, the greater the chances that you would need to be available for work (at odd hours), more than the average person.

So what now? Yes, you chose to work at the mine and somebody will probably remind you of this. This doesn't mean you will be unaffected mentally. Until such time that mental health becomes part of the annual medical, you will need to check yourself (before you wreck yourself!). If you are constantly feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless or despondent then it's time to get help. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health so you need to make sure you treat it as such.

I hope that you found this insightful. Please feel free to leave a comment!

Until next time, stay safe!

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