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Improving mental health support for workers at LNG Canada project

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July 9, 2024
By Talent Canada

Two-and-a-half years after Workplace Options (WPO), an independent provider of holistic well-being and employee engagement solutions, partnered with construction and engineering firm JGC Fluor, on-site counselling sessions per rotation at the remote LNG Canada project site have more than tripled.

Before the partnership, named the MIND Your Health project, workers at the site in Kitimat, BC, had limited care for their emotional needs. There were less than 20 on-site counseling sessions per 14-day rotation. Today, counselors serve 50 to 70 workers during that same timeframe.

“The accomplishment of the JGC Fluor experience is tied to the strong connection the program staff made with the workforce,” said Mary Ellen Gornick, founding partner, WPO Consulting Group. “Offering comprehensive on-site support, prioritizing accessibility and reducing the stigma associated with seeking help make the program relevant to each worker’s personal situation. Being on site, with frequent touchpoints, demonstrates that reaching out for help is a positive step to making your life better.”

Employees on mega work sites, especially in remote locations, can face significant mental health challenges due to isolation, long hours and demanding work conditions. Stigma and a lack of understanding about how a person’s mental health affects their overall health and safety have hindered employees from receiving the care they need. The MIND Your Health project addresses this long-standing issue by providing various mental health and counseling services, along with health and wellness educational programs tailored to meet the unique needs of workers in demanding environments.

Other notable statistics from the first few years of the program include:

  • Participation in educational programs rose from 365 people per month to 765 people per month between the first and third years. In 2023, more than 9,000 individuals were engaged in various programs, ranging from brief 15-minute Toolbox Talks to comprehensive two-day training sessions.
  • Attendance at online clinical sessions increased from 202 sessions (August to December 2021) to 1,220 sessions in 2023.
  • Achieved an overall program engagement rate of 158 per cent.
  • Received exceptionally high net promoter scores, with 98 per cent for assistance provided, 98 per cent for perceived care and 99 per cent for the decision to partner with Workplace Options.

Research shows employees across industries who have access to emotional, physical and mental support are more likely to focus on work and less likely to suffer from chronic pain, poor physical health, sleep issues, short temper and breakdown of important relationships in their lives.

Mary Lu Spagrud, mental wellness coordinator for JGC Fluor at the LNG Canada project, has served in the mental health field for more than 30 years. She noted, “We assisted a fellow about a year and a half ago, and, when he returned to work after a mental health leave, he was grateful for the positive impact the project had on his life.”

The MIND your Health project proves that it’s possible to change the culture on remote industrial sites when workers realize how employee well-being is connected to the broader framework of health and safety initiatives.

The project shifted the dialogue among the Canadian workers; talking about mental health is not only normalized and encouraged but embraced by employees at all levels, from frontline workers to leadership teams, cultivating a supportive environment for the industrial camp community.

Spagrud shared the message she brings to workers at the LNG Canada project, “Here’s my challenge to everybody: I want you to talk about, think about and protect your mental health in the same way you do your physical health.”

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