Industry Q&A: Tap into Safety's All of Me Solution
Austmine recently sat down with Dr Susanne Bahn, Co-Founder & CEO of Tap into Safety and newly appointed panel member of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Small Business Finance Advisory Panel. In this interview, Sue addresses the topic of mental health in the mining sector by delving into the findings generated from their research partnership with Edith Cowan University, whilst also exploring the “All of Me” solution which utilises new technology to create preventative mental health solutions.
1. Has it been encouraging to see the focus that mental health has attracted in the mining sector over the past few years? How do we continue to spread the message?
The mining industry has always been a sector that has led through innovation and it’s encouraging to see that they are keen to improve in managing the mental health of their workforce. We have seen two state enquiries into FIFO and mental health, one in Western Australia and one in Queensland where thirty recommendations emerged.
In order to continue to spread the message, networking forums and presentations are an excellent method for Health and Safety professionals to see new innovations in this space.
2. What are the specific nuances of the mining sector that elevate the challenge of combatting mental health issues? What more can be done here?
The mining sector has specific stressors on mental health including FIFO work arrangements, long swings working away from home, a ‘blokey’ culture and stigma that affect help seeking.
Research conducted by Philippa Vojnovic investigating well-being among FIFO workers in WA found that while employers often prefer work performance and employee health monitoring, mentoring schemes and on the job support for workers with mental health problems, employees generally do not rate these interventions favourably. Initiating intervention strategies among FIFO workers may require the assessment of individuals and their workplaces and must be tailored to suit specific needs. The support of stakeholders is necessary to assess workplace risks of psychological injury and to implement mental health policies particularly in the case of FIFO worker mental health. It is recommended that employers implement positive psychosocial safety climates to protect their workers, reduce risks of psychological injuries, and in so doing, better promote organisational outcomes.
3. Tap into Safety have been involved in a new mental health product called All of Me. How does this initiative provide a preventative solution to mental health issues in mining? How does it work?
Using technology to transform the way we engage with mental health, All of Me is an early intervention, preventative solution for workplaces that the end user accesses anonymously. Using fun, animated scenarios it educates about mental health symptoms around workplace stressors e.g Alcohol & Depression, Working Away, Transitioning back in, Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts etc. It provides powerful analytics to predict staff groups in early mental health decline to help inform well-being programmes where to provide targeted support. It allows the individual to be one click away from help and information about mental health conditions and support that can accessed via any smart device and on the web. The analytics in All of Me are an innovation for workplaces providing insight to prevent stress claims like no other solution before.
4. Mental health is currently under the microscope with a research study being conducted by Edith Cowan University, in partnership with Tap into Safety. What are some of the interesting preliminary results to this report and how does this align with current mental health solutions?
We have worked with a major labour hire company who have provided access to All of Me to their 3,000 staff since March this year. ECU are evaluating the results together with a staff survey to determine the perception of the end user of the solution and their general thoughts and use of web-based mental health solutions. A white paper of the findings will be published later this year.
However, we do have some preliminary results.
Across the 3,000 staff, approximately 65% were male and 35% female, with 8% identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The first module “Change and Burnout” was made available from 1st March 2016 to 6th June. The total completion rate was 392 results for staff across Resources (216), Transport & Warehousing (39), Government (20), Utilities (17), Manufacturing (14), Construction (9), Hospitality (6), Retail (2) and Other (69).
Overall, male workers showed higher levels of depression and female workers higher levels of anxiety. For male workers (249 results) 7% reported moderate signs of anxiety and 3% for severe and 3% extremely severe anxiety. For female workers (140 results), 10% reported moderate signs of anxiety and 2% for severe and 4% extremely severe anxiety.
For male workers, 10% reported moderate depression and 1% for severe and 2% extremely severe depression. For female workers, 5% reported moderate depression and 3% for severe and 4% extremely severe depression.
Results Analysed by Age
The results revealed high variances in the levels of stress, anxiety and depression across age groups and when further analysed according to gender: Younger workers (37 results) aged 18-24 years (Figure 1) showed the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression across the sample. Male staff reported high levels of depression (9% extremely severe) and female staff reported high levels of anxiety (13% extremely severe).
For the 25-34 years age group (128 results) when analysed by gender, 7% of male workers (72 results) reported severe anxiety and 17% moderate depression. For female workers (56 results), 4% reported extremely severe anxiety and depression levels.
The 35-44 years age group (85 results) when analysed by gender showed 4% of male workers (57 results) who reported extremely severe anxiety. Female workers (27 results), had elevated levels of depression with 7% reporting severe and 4% extremely severe depression symptoms.
The 45-54 years age group (87 results) and the 55 years and over age group (55 results) showed very low rates of stress, anxiety and depression symptoms.
Results Analysed by Industry – Mining & Resources
Overall 216 workers in the above sample were in the mining and resources sector and completed the module. When analysed against work rosters, workers on a Fly-in/Fly-out 14:7 roster (45 results) showed increased rates of mental health pressure. For anxiety, 9% reported moderate anxiety, 7% severe anxiety and 2% extremely severe anxiety. For depression, 7% reported moderate depression and 4% extremely severe depression. Workers on this roster were predominantly male (38 results).
Workers on a FIFO 8:6 roster (13 results) showed further increased rates of mental health pressure. For anxiety, 15% reported severe anxiety symptoms. For depression, 31% reported moderate depression and 8% extremely severe depression. However, the sample size for this roster was too small to make generalised assumptions about this working arrangement and the impact on mental health. Further data is being collected.
Figure 1: 18-24 Years’ Results
Find out more about Tap Into Safety here.