Construction workers are less likely to have mental health problems than the average Aussie worker and are less stressed overall, according to new research from SuperFriend.

Fewer construction workers are experiencing mental health conditions (15.9 per cent) than the national average (19.4 per cent) on new figures released by SuperFriend, the workplace mental health and wellbeing partner for the superannuation and insurance industry.

Importantly, a survey of more than 5,000 Australian workers revealed that the proportion of employees in the construction industry finding their job highly stressful was well below the national average.

However, the data painted a much less rosy picture for female and younger workers. It showed that the proportion of female construction workers currently experiencing a mental health condition is more than double that of men (25.5 per cent, versus 11.7 per cent).

Moreover, younger construction workers are faring the worst with 37.7 per cent reporting struggles compared with the 15.9 per cent industry average.

“While we know that mental health policies and action plans might still be in their early days in construction, the sector is clearly doing a lot right, with construction workers currently identifying lower levels of workplace bullying and discrimination than the national average.”Margo Lydon, chief executive of SuperFriend said:

“It’s clear that men and older workers, who dominate the construction workforce, are having more positive mental health experiences at work than others. Therefore, it’s important for employers to commit to greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace, with targeted support for younger and female workers.”

David Atkin, SuperFriend chair and chief executive of of Cbus, said: “These results reflect that the construction industry has been directly investing in industry-led mental health and suicide prevention initiatives for many years, and it seems to be paying off. It shows that this industry is in a good position to contribute to the economy, both commercially and socially.

“It is natural to assume that white collar, office-based jobs are easier. However, these findings show that many construction workers are gaining great satisfaction from their work, contributing positively to their mental health and wellbeing.”

Construction workers in Australia’s biggest cities — where the industry is concentrated —are thriving the most, with only 8.9 per cent reporting a current mental health condition, compared to 38.6 per cent in regional or rural areas, according to the survey.

Elizabeth Fry has been a financial journalist for more than 25 years and has written for a number of publications, including CFO, The Financial Times and The Australian Financial Review.
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