MATES Workplace Suicide Prevention Programs: Evaluating the impact of MATES programs on suicide prevention literacy, stigma, helping behaviours, and suicidal thoughts
MATES is a federation of state and territory-based suicide prevention charities coordinated by a National MATES office. MATES began in 2008 in the construction industry, and has been steadily extending to other blue-collar male-dominated sectors (e.g., mining, energy, manufacturing). Researchers from several universities around the country are working collaboratively with MATES to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of MATES programs. MATES programs involve face to face General Awareness Training (GAT), complemented by the recruitment and training of volunteers to connect workers in need of help (so-called ‘Connectors) and ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) workers; ‘help’ is provided by an array of supports including fellow workers, Connectors, ASIST workers, MATES Field staff, a 1-800 helpline, and caseworkers.
Two projects are currently underway. The first is MATES Mobile, a randomised-controlled trial comparing the impacts of MATES in Construction’s usual program versus the usual program plus a MATES App to complement and reinforce program messages (funded initially by an NHMRC Partnership Project, and continuing under Buoy Project funding). The second is a new trial, funded under the current Buoy Project, of an adaptation of MATES to the manufacturing sector. The MATES in Manufacturing trial will be a cluster-randomised trial comparing sites receiving the program to waitlist controls. Both trials will evaluate program impacts on suicide prevention literacy, stigma, help-offering, help-seeking, and suicidal thoughts.