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Worker mental health awareness training receives Ontario funding

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Workplace Safety North is taking advantage of the provincial announcement of $1.7 million in funding to develop and deliver mental health training and resources geared for mining and forestry workers in Northern Ontario.

President Paul Andre says many worksite locations are remote work camps or where this limited access to medical care.

He says people are dealing with prolonged anxiety, depression and isolation, and need information and reinforcement on healthy ways to cope.

Andre explains based on the effects of the pandemic on mental health the organization now has a team of four Psychological Health and Safety Advisors, accredited with the Canadian Mental Health Association, available to consult with clients and create psychologically safe and healthy workplaces.

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“Last year, workplace mental health resources were in the top ten health and safety resources accessed on workplacesafetynorth.ca, including a link to free workplace mental health videos viewed more than 500 times by Ontario employers and workers,” notes Andre.

Funding for Workplace Safety North’s three-year project is being used to develop and deliver in-person and online training programs for mining and forestry operations, including an online portal where workers and employers can access mental health tools and resources 24-7, as well as free resources and

The program includes a research partnership with the Centre for Research for Occupational Safety and Health based out of Laurentian University in Sudbury, which will be tracking statistical data to determine the effectiveness of the training and resources explains Andre.

“To date, from October to December 2021, WSN delivered six training sessions to total of 928 participants. Survey results indicate 95.7 per cent of training participants said their knowledge and awareness increased, and 96.7 per cent said they changed their practice or behaviour because of receiving services.

“The program builds on the government’s work to protect workers from workplace injuries and illness through the five-year Prevention Works strategy. The strategy aims to help workplaces comply with and exceed workplace health and safety laws and standards to keep workers safe, focusing on occupational illnesses, employee mental health, workplace violence, and harassment,” adds Andre.

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