Sudbury study to examine mental health of miners – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – July 24, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

A research project on the mental health of workers in the mining industry is exactly the type of study Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn would like to see more of in Ontario.

The three-year, $400,000 study, funded by Vale Ltd., is a partnership among the mining company, United Steelworkers and Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH).

The goal of the study, called Mining Mental Health, is to collect information to develop strategies to promote strong mental health among workers in Vale’s Ontario operations.

Flynn paid his first visit to a mine earlier this year when he went underground at Vale’s Coleman Mine.

Travelling 5,000 feet below surface “was quite the experience for a city kid,” Flynn told about 100 people in the lobby of Laurentian’s Ben Avery building Thursday.

Flynn said he was struck by how dark and how hot it was underground, and when he returned to surface, “what struck me was the time it took to recalibrate my senses, to get used to being back on the surface again, and I’d only spent an afternoon down there.”

Flynn said he could only imagine the risks — physical and mental — of a career spent underground.

“I’m so glad to see Vale is taking this risk seriously and supporting this research. I hope to see many other companies do this,” he said.

What separates good workplaces from great ones is the steps companies take to make them psychologically healthy and safe, said the minister.

Flynn said he expected good results from the study, a collaboration by many of the organizations involved in the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review, whose recommendations were presented earlier this year.

The minister said his government accepted all those recommendations and is well on its way to implementing them, he said.

In public consultations during the mining review process, several people spoke to the review advisory panel about the mental health challenges posed by mining.

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