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Mining company goes big with mental health message

An Ipswich mining company has gone big – very big – with its push to raise mental health awareness among its staff and the community.

New Hope Group, which runs Jeebropilly Mine near Rosewood, has put two giant RUOK? stickers from the RUOK? Day Organisation on the side of a 50 tonne mine service truck.

Machinery operator Jason Linke said the idea to revamp the service truck was developed by the mine’s employee-led health and safety committee.

“RUOK? Day has done a great job of raising awareness about mental health and encouraging people to check in with their mates,” he said.

“Our health and safety committee has been working really hard to make mental wellness a priority and we were keen to find a way to keep it front of mind during our work shifts.

“By putting the RUOK? message on our most visible piece of machinery, it’s effectively ‘up in lights’ and serves as a reminder to check in on your mates whenever it delivers fuel, services a vehicle or passes you on the road.

“So far it’s been a great conversation starter and is really encouraging people to stop and catch up with their mates to talk about things that really matter.”

Health safety and training coordinator Brendan Ryan said the RUOK? service truck was the most recent initiative in a wider push for increased awareness about mental health and men’s health onsite.

“Apart from our new addition to the service truck, over the last couple of years we’ve set up a number of events around mental wellness like M8 Day and Movember and established a peer-to-peer mentoring program,” he said.

“Fostering a positive mental wellness culture on site has been particularly important for us as mining operations begin to wind down after almost three and a half decades.

“The concept behind our new RUOK? service truck is to bring mental wellness to the forefront and make every day an RUOK? Day.

“It’s really important to us as a business that our employees and their families are supported as they transition into new jobs or onto retirement.

“Focusing on mental health, and upskilling our workforce with transferable skill has played a really big role in getting our mine site ready to finish well.”

How to ask someone ‘are you OK?’

1. Ask are you OK?

  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach
  • Help them open up by asking questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?”
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”
  • If they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.
  • If they don’t want to talk, you could say “Please call me if you ever want to chat”.

2. Listen without judgement

  • Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
  • Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them.
  • If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence.
  • Encourage them to explain: “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
  • Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you have heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.

3. Encourage action

  • Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
  • Ask: “How would you like me to support you?”
  • Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
  • You could say: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
  • If they have been feeling down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to help you find the right person to talk to.”
  • Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.

4. Check in

  • Put a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
  • You could say: “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”
  • Ask if they have found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
  • Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

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