New mental health training for mining industry

Monday, May 03, 2021

Workplace Safety North and NORCAT team up for new initiative

Workers attend training session in classroom

NORCAT trainers attend mental health awareness training with Angele Poitras, Psychological Health and Safety Advisor at Workplace Safety North. A mental health awareness session is being incorporated into common core training for diamond driller and underground hard rock mine workers.

Workplace Safety North (WSN) and NORCAT announce a new mental health education initiative designed to increase mental health training and awareness among employees across the mining industry.

“Workplace Safety North provided instructor training and materials to select NORCAT trainers for the WSN mental health awareness session, so that they will be able to offer this module for its common core courses,” says Mike Parent, WSN Prevention Services Vice President.

“Our intention with this partnership is to increase the reach on this important topic, and promote why mental health matters,” says Parent. “Ultimately, we want to help individuals that are – or know someone – dealing with mental health issues.”

In early March, NORCAT trainers received an introductory mental health awareness course, a pre-requisite for the second part of the training from Angele Poitras, a WSN Psychological Health and Safety Advisor certified with the Canadian Mental Health Association. In May, Poitras will provide more detailed instruction on how to deliver the session, plus review material and conduct role-playing scenarios.

“The feedback so far has been hugely positive,” says Poitras. “Before the training, the majority rated their comfort level talking to others about mental health in the low to mid-range, and afterwards they all felt comfortable recognizing mental health concerns, being more receptive to others, looking for warning signs, and listening more.”

“We cannot emphasize the importance of mental health enough; it impacts every aspect of our lives, including work,” says Jason Bubba, Chief Operation Officer at NORCAT. “We are pleased to provide this mental health awareness session to our Surface and Underground Diamond Drilling Common Core and Underground Hard Rock Miner Common Core trainees to spread awareness and knowledge.

“By incorporating mental health awareness sessions into existing training, NORCAT hopes to open up the conversation about why mental health matters, signs and symptoms, and how each of us can make a difference in the workplace and beyond,” adds Bubba. Over time, NORCAT will add the mental health training to additional classes.

WSN has two Psychological Health and Safety Advisors certified with the Canadian Association for Mental Health, and offers mental health workshops and training to raise awareness and reduce stigma, including substance use awareness training for supervisors. The organization has been helping facilitate risk-based assessments and root-cause analyses in the Ontario mining and forest products industries where substance use, stress, and other psychosocial factors have been ranked in the top ten health and safety risks.

For more information, contact Angele Poitras.


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