More than a third of coal miners and former coal miners suffering from black lung disease struggle with depression, and more than one in 10 has recently considered suicide, a new study finds.
The study is believed to be the first to examine mental health issues in a large population of coal miners in the United States. Based on the troubling results, the researchers are calling for more mental health resources and treatment for current and former miners. They also are urging further study of potential contributors to the problem, including social determinants of health, substance use and workplace safety.
“Although coal mining is on the decline, the rates of black lung in Southwest Virginia continue to increase. Coal miners in Central Appalachia face disparities in health related to a range of complex social, economic, occupational and behavioral factors,” said researcher Dr. Drew Harris, a pulmonary medicine expert at UVA Health. “This study highlights the unrecognized crisis of mental illness in miners that warrants urgent attention, resources and expanded care.” Read More >>>