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One in five Australians experience signs and symptoms of mental ill-health every year, yet more than half of them don’t reach out for help.

According to Black Dog Institute (BDI), a not-for-profit medical research institute investigating mental health across the lifespan, mental illness is now the leading cause of sickness absence and long-term work incapacity in Australia. Research has shown the construction industry has long been grappling with high rates of mental health issues.

A survey conducted by BDI Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Andrew Arena found that one in four workers had high symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. It also found that 25 per cent of workers who needed mental health support never accessed it.

“Rates of help-seeking tend to be low in male-dominated industries like construction, where stigma around mental health issues remains quite high,” Arena said.

“Construction workers typically have a strong preference for being self-reliant and avoid talking about their emotions – two things that will stand in the way of getting help when they need it. This is just one thing that increases the risk of mental health issues for this group.”

According to a 2017 study psychological distress factors within Australian coal miners included having few social connections, perceived job insecurity, risky alcohol consumption, prior history of depression or anxiety, dissatisfaction with work, and a perception that mental health was not supported by the workplace.

A 2019 study of residential mining workers and fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers found that both groups had levels of moderate or severe clinical depression that were considerably higher than among the general Australian population.

To aid in fighting against mental health stigma, Safety Mate – an Australian personal protective equipment (PPE) provider – partnered with BDI in 2021 to combat such issues being faced in the Australian mining and construction industries.

The partnership centres around the Safety Mate’s ‘Black Dog’ product range, which supports BDI’s work in the mental health space.

The Black Dog product range

Safety Mate and BDI’s partnership includes four signature cause products.

The Black Dog Stream EVO safety glasses were designed with high performance and maximum comfort and protection at the forefront.

The Riley Black Dog Stream EVO safety glasses are made for maximum comfort and protection. Image: Safety Mate

Built with premium anti-scratch and anti-fog protection, the Stream EVO glasses feature several helpful safety features such as a UV400 rating, lateral protection, slim temples for comfort when worn with ear defenders, and an adjustable anti-slip nose bridge.

They are also soft and adjustable, and feature TempFLEX temple tips for a comfortable and secure fit.

For every pair of Black Dog Stream EVO safety glasses sold, Safety Mate donates $0.50 to BDI.

The Skytec Black Dog 3030V is a P2 graded respirator, protecting workers against silicosis, harmful welding fumes and similar respirable hazards.

This product provides a full-foam face seal ensuring comfort and a first-rate face fit testing, allowing users to wear the respirator for hours on end.

Image: Safety Mate
The Skytec 3030V respirator. Image: Safety Mate

Featuring a four-point head strap adjustment and a preformed nose bridge, the Skytec Black Dog 3030V can be adapted to all face shapes, reducing the need for regular adjustments.

The respirator is also available in a smaller size, the Skytec Black Dog 3030V-S.

The Black Dog Cut D safety gloves are a lightweight glove designed with comfort and durability firmly in mind.

Known as being super lightweight, the Black Dog Cut D gloves are made from a breathable nitrile coating and lightweight liner, providing comfort, durability and high-quality cut resistance, a key benefit when working within tough mining conditions.

The gloves are also renowned for their breathability, compatibility with touchscreens, and having a certified Made In Green label by Oeko-Tex.

safety mate
The Black Dog Cut F gloves. Image: Safety Mate

The Black Dog Impact Cut F safety gloves have also received the Made In Green label and provide users with maximum cut level F protection, durability, breathability and touch screen compatibility. Additionally, they also provide flexible but tough impact protection for pinch and impact situations.

For every pair of Black Dog gloves sold, Safety Mate donates $1.00 to BDI.

As is evident with the Black Dog range of safety gear, Safety Mate wants to be known as not only a PPE supplier but a supporter of improving mental health across the mining, construction and manufacturing sectors.

Since forming its partnership with BDI, Safety Mate has surpassed $1 million in donations to the organisation.

“Our Black Dog product range is more than just personal protection – it’s a symbol of support and awareness for mental health,” Safety Mate managing director Clint Tee told Safe to Work.

“This initiative ensures that with every purchase of Black Dog products, donations are channelled directly towards Black Dog Institute, bolstering efforts in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses.”

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