Peer Support Team Advances Mental Health at U.S. Borax

:: Tuesday, May 28, 2024 :: Posted By Jen Brown

May is Mental Health Awareness month. At U.S. Borax, we’re finding better ways to provide a safe work environment for everyone, and that includes prioritizing employee’s mental wellbeing.

While we practice mental health support every day, this month serves as an important reminder that the stigma surrounding mental health issues remains widespread.

To help break down barriers, we’re sharing more details on one of our on-site mental health initiatives—a volunteer-based team called the Peer Support Program.

What does mental health mean at U.S. Borax?

Mental health is central to our company’s culture and creating a safe, inclusive workplace. Mining is an industry that can be physically demanding, but it can also be psychologically stressful.

Stigma, fear, and lack of awareness are barriers preventing people from seeking mental health care, which Mental Health Awareness month seeks to overcome.

Mental health statistics
  • The World Health Organization estimates 264 million people are affected by depression
  • Only 50% of people with mental health disorders receive treatment

We stand behind this goal and are working to ensure people feel comfortable getting the mental health help they need. Programs such as the Peer Support Program play a vital role in shaping our environment.

Learn more about our people-first work environment.

What is the Peer Support Program? 

The Peer Support Program is a volunteer-based team that’s committed to providing employees with a robust network of mental health support and resources.

These individuals are not counselors, but rather trusted colleagues working across different departments onsite. Being a U.S. Borax employee enables them to offer unique support that comes from an empathetic perspective.

According to research in the Frontiers in Psychiatry journal, “peer-led intervention can reduce self-stigma” and “increase willingness to seek professional help.”

Robyn Harn, industrial hygiene specialist at U.S. Borax, became a Peer Supporter because she understands how powerful it is to have colleagues who care and are willing to help.

“We work side-by-side with our workmates, so they see and know us well,” says Harn. “They know when we are not 100% and are struggling both personally and professionally.

“Having someone trained to understand the signs and know the available support routes is priceless. Being a friendly nonjudgmental ear or a presence that offers support can be comforting to so many.”

Every talk between a Peer Supporter and an employee is strictly private, with confidentiality only broken if necessary to protect the safety of the employee or others. This ensures that employees can feel safe and supported when reaching out for help.

If more professional help is needed, a Peer Supporter can facilitate a pathway to professional help or other services such as our Employee Assistance Program.

Trained mental health volunteers
Becoming a Peer Supporter involves a meaningful commitment on behalf of the volunteer. Peer Supporters must complete a rigorous recruitment process that involves nomination, interviews, and a final approval. The nominations are generally sought from peers, leaders, or functional roles. The approval process will involve the Site Coordinator as well as the employee’s leader.

Upon approval, Peer Supporters receive mental health first aid training, which involves two hours of e-learning coursework followed by a 4-hour in-person course led by a registered psychologist. After completing the courses, the volunteer leaves with:

  • A sound understanding of mental wellbeing
  • Skills to detect stress indicators early
  • Tactics for offering non-judgmental support
  • Techniques to encourage people to seek professional help when needed

Peer Supporters participate Mental Health First Aid training. It involves 2 hours e-learning coursework followed by a 4 hour in-person course facilitated by a registered psychologist. We also commit to providing them with ongoing professional development through courses offered by our EAP provider.

Advancing a culture of mental health onsite

We’re proud of the critical role the Peer Support Program serves in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Together, we’re strengthening our caring-based culture so everyone feels valued, supported, and empowered to access mental health resources.




U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.  Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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