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Vale Canada introduces mental health campaign

Elephant in the Room program complements employees’ mental health training
A large elephant mascot at Vale’s Clarabelle Mill in Sudbury is linked to the Elephant in the Room Anti-Stigma Campaign, which aims to help employees feel comfortable talking about mental health and accessing services. (Supplied photo)

Vale Canada has adopted a new mental health campaign at its Sudbury operations aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness.

The company announced on Oct. 8 it’s partnering with the Mood Disorders Society of Canada on its Elephant in the Room Anti-Stigma Campaign, which encourages employees experiencing a mental health concern to talk to a fellow employee who has received mental health training.

To address the “elephant in the room,” employees who have received the training will display a small blue elephant on their desk as a signal to others that they are trained and have “created safe spaces for conversations with individuals experiencing a mental health concern,” the company said.

Vale said more than 500 employees in its Ontario operations have been trained in mental health first aid. The company has also launched a condensed mental health training program called MINES for Minds (monitor, intervene, normalize, encourage, support).

“This is a great way for employees to easily identify themselves as being trained in Mental Health First Aid,” said Claire Parkinson, head of health, safety, environment and risk for Vale’s North Atlantic Operations, in a news release.

“The Elephant in the Room Campaign pairs with our Mental Health First Aid and MINES for Minds programs to raise awareness, tackle stigma, and visibly identify the people and places where we can find support to talk about our mental health.”

Results of a five-year study into the mental health of Vale miners in Sudbury – called Mining Mental Health – demonstrated that 56 per cent are experiencing symptoms of mental illness that could be of concern.

Eighteen per cent showed mild levels of depressive symptoms, while another 10 per cent experienced thoughts of suicide, but weren’t planning to carry those thoughts out. Another 10 per cent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The company’s Sudbury operations include five nickel mines, a mill, a smelter and a nickel refinery.