Corporate social responsibility towards mental health care in South African mining communities
Van Wyk, Louis Johannes
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Mining activities have impacted on the health and safety of mining communities for many decades. Despite the economic contributions of mining to its surrounding communities, there is also a huge amount of environmental and social harm to be associated with the industry. Much attention has recently fallen on reducing health and safety risks, but there is still a long way to go before working and living in the mining environment would be regarded as healthy and safe. The lack of proper accountability has been a significant factor in the damaging effects of corporations on society. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is essential for the mining industry to ensure that there is an adequate balance between economic development and the well-being of people and the environment. Mining companies have recently started implementing different health programmes around mines [e.g. NIHL (noise induced hearing loss), HIV/AIDS and TB - programmes]. It is, however, the long-term impacts (such as mental health impacts) of mine activities that will remain long after the company closes and there is little evidence that these long-term responsibilities are being addressed. This study examines the impact of mining on the mental health of mining communities (including the mine workers) as experienced by community members, mine employees, as well as other role players involved in the industry. By doing so, the aim of this study is to determine the need for the inclusion of mental health care in the CSR programmes of mining companies, in order to advance sustainable development of mining communities. The study was done by means of qualitative methods undertaken in the North-West and Limpopo Provinces of South Africa, where different stakeholders from the mining industry were interviewed. It has been found that "mental health care" is still a huge gap that needs and waits to be filled in terms of mining companies' CSR performance.
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