Strive is very excited to be announced as a finalist for the 2022 PIEF Conference Awards under the Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiative category.
Strive would like to thank it’s partners for their collaboration and support to make this program possible. We are grateful to have partnered with BOC Gas and Gear at Rocklea, WorkCover Queensland and the Australian Manufacturing Worker’s Union to develop a ‘top-down and bottom-up’ mental health initiative designed by workers, for workers.
The Manufacturing Healthy Minds Program has been developed over a long journey at BOC Gases Rocklea, which has encompassed work health and safety as well as wellbeing. Positively supporting the mental health of workers in the manufacturing industry has been a challenge not just for BOC, but for whole of industry.
Like many organisations, BOC has engaged the services of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide support and guidance to workers, family members and managers. Despite the program being regularly promoted, there is little evidence that production employees actually ‘make the call’ for assistance. Poor connection to EAP was for a number of reasons:
- Higher percentage of workers appeared to be in crisis were employed as casuals
- Promoters of the EAP program are Managers
- There is a distrust with the privacy of the program
- There are high levels of stigma associated with mental health issues
Research in the construction industry identified that each year 190 Australians working in the industry take their own lives and construction workers are six times more likely suicide than die from an accident at work, with young male workers 2.5 times more likely to suicide than the rest of the population.
In meetings with BOC, AMWU, WorkCover Queensland and Strive it was identified that a new approach was needed. It was agreed that WorkCover Queensland would support a Pilot Program under the Injury Risk Reduction Initiative. The program at BOC Rocklea was later named ‘Manufacturing Healthy Minds’ with a focus on Production Workers to recognise the importance of whole of person wellbeing.
It was agreed by all stakeholders that the program needed to be a worker driven initiative with support from management. A steering committee was formed made up of: AWMU representatives and BOC HSR’s (to represent workers), Strive Consultant, WorkCover Queensland and BOC Managers. The roll out plan involved the following:
- Program launch and introduction to workers with BBQ lunch
- Toolbox Talks on mental health awareness led by AMWU and Strive
- Session with Managers on mental health awareness
- Mental health survey at beginning and end of the program
- Education to workers on what the program is and how to access
- Agreed program commitment – Strive onsite weekly 11.30am to 3.30pm in PPE to access all areas of site
- Agreed contact strategy for employees to access Strive
- Agreed framework to protect confidentiality of workers
Over the duration of the 10-week Pilot Program period, the BOC Rocklea Leadership Team made the following observations on the result of the program:
- Employees speaking more openly about their wellbeing to others including managers
- Employees suffering a crisis are being more supported by peers
- Employees feel more empowered to have conversations with peers and managers
- Improvement in site culture to create a sense of ‘family’
- Normalising the conversation about mental health
Statistically speaking, the program delivered the following results over 10 weeks:
- 38% of production workers accessed the program
- On average 3.9 staff accessed support each week
- 54% of support sessions focused on work-related stressors and 46% focused on personal stressors
- 100% of staff supported continuation of the program
The engagement rates of the program speak for themselves, with 38% of workers accessing support in the first 10 weeks. This is up to 7.5 times higher than the annual utilisation rate with traditional EAP services. Additional significant results drawn from the final mental health survey included:
- 35% increase in workers feeling they have the tools to effectively manage their mental health
- 28% increase of awareness of how stress can impact thoughts, feelings and mood
- 20% increase in having the skills to have difficult conversations with co-workers
- 100% reported that they would refer a friend to the program
One worker stated “we have normalised the conversation about mental health on the site” when describing the effectiveness of the program.
Due to the resounding success of the Program, WorkCover Queensland supported an extension which concluded in April 2022. In the 10-week extension a further 48 support sessions were completed.
There has been a total of 87 support sessions completed over 20 weeks with an average of 4.35 workers accessing the program weekly.
In May 2022, BOC Rocklea agreed to fund the program for its ongoing continuation. Regular steering committee meetings continue with the above-mentioned stakeholders. The next steps in the program include:
- Further toolbox talks based on themes identified throughout the pilot program
- Embedding the program into site culture and induction for new starters
- Identifying further ‘connectors’ for the program
- Further discussion at industry level to expand the program to the broader manufacturing industry
Talk to Strive today about how we can help design a similar program for your organisation.