April 13, 2021

A Focus on Mental Health


Safety-healthWhen the Alcoa email offering an emotional checkup during the pandemic reached the inbox of a mechanical engineer at our Juruti mine in Brazil, he hesitated.

“I opened and closed the email three times,” he said. “Like many people, I thought that psychologists and psychiatrists were for people with severe mental illness. It was always a barrier that made it difficult for me to ask for help.”

Lingering personal issues added to this employee’s feelings of loneliness during pandemic-imposed isolation, and he said his mental health started to decline.

Recognizing that many people could be struggling, our Brazilian operations emailed a short voluntary questionnaire to its employees in October 2020 to self-assess their mental health. The online tool focused on identifying loneliness, anxiety, depression and stress, and it also provided options for seeking help. If answers identified significant changes or issues, location-based healthcare professionals contacted employees directly to offer assistance.

“As soon as I completed the questionnaire, I got a response from the Alcoa medical team,” said the mechanical engineer. “I was attended to by excellent, very ethical professionals, and at no time did I feel exposed or embarrassed. After some consultations, I started to feel better. Today, I see that we need to take care of our mental health like we do any part of our body. I also learned that with the help of good professionals, it’s easier to deal with and solve our problems. I thank Alcoa for providing such a great program.”

He added, “I realized that telling my story could help other people get out of the deep end and take the initiative to seek help. I decided to turn what I was experiencing into music. Just as I received help, I want to help other people as well.”

(The following was written by the mechanical engineer.)

I Need Your Love

It's so hard to bear,
But I know you won't leave me.
I've been meaningless, and almost gave up on life.
I just feel like crying.
It's so hard to continue,
But I know that it will all pass.
This pain suffocated me and left me with no way out.
I feel powerless to fight.
But God you are my father,
Please come and help me.
Carry me on your lap, make me rest.
I can't stand this chest pain anymore,
Please come and support me.
I need your love, come and hug me.

It's so hard to continue,
But I know that it will all pass.
This pain suffocated me and left me with no way out.
I feel powerless to fight.