According to Chilean health minister Jaime Manalich, some of the miners trapped in a collapsed shaft show signs of depression.
He said five of the 33 miners, trapped 700m (2,300ft) below ground, were not eating properly and had refused to be filmed. (photo, from aljazeera.net)
Health minister said psychologists would attempt to treat the men from the surface over an intercom system.
By Monday, work on an escape tunnel, which may take four months to reach the miners, will have started, engineers said.
Though the men were only discovered on August 22, they’ve already been stuck in the shaft for three weeks.
From the surface, a small tunnel has been drilled to them in order to allow supplies to be sent down.
In order to drill the escape tunnel, heavy machinery from Spain and Australia, like a 29-ton hydraulic bore, is now being assembled.
In a self-made film broadcast on Chilean TV on Thursday, most of the men looked relatively upbeat.
But Manalich said five of the men were not seen on the film.
“They are very isolated, they did not want to appear on the film, they are not eating well,” he said.
“I would say depression is the right word.”
Relatives of the 33 men have camped out at the surface of the San Jose mine, near the city of Copiapo, some 725km (450 miles) north of Santiago.
They have been urged to write to their loved ones as often as possible as part of the effort to keep the men’s spirits up.
But in the same time the families are questioning why the mine was allowed to reopen in 2008. A year before it had been shut because of an accident.
Both San Esteban Mining, which owns the mine, and several safety inspectors from the country’s mining body, which allowed the mine to reopen are being sued by 28 relatives of the miners.
San Esteban’s owners, Alejandro Bohn and Marcelo Kemeny, have denied any responsibility for the accident.
A judge froze $1.8m (£1.2m) in assets belonging to the firm on Thursday, in case it has to pay compensation.
On Wednesday the miners were told that it could take up to four months to rescue them.
Though Manalich said they had reacted calmly to the news, he pointed out that they were “going to suffer from huge challenges regarding their psychological conditions”.
In order to keep the men mentally and physically fit during their long wait, a special exercise and recreation programme is being set up.
They have also been told to distinguish between day and night.
Doctors from the US space agency Nasa, experts in keeping astronauts alive and well on long missions in confined spaces, will arrive in Chile next week to assist medical officials with the miners.
(map from bbcimg.co.uk)