Research projects

Workplace mental illness and substance use disorders in male-dominated industries: A systematic literature review

Principal researchers

Prof. Ann M Roche
A/Prof. Nicole Lee
Dr. Ken Pidd
Ms. Jane Fischer
Dr. Samantha Battams
Mr. Roger Nicholas 


National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), Flinders University, SA


$92,878.38 (+ GST)

Award type   

beyondblue grant

Project completion year      


Project brief  

beyondblue commissioned NCETA to undertake a systematic review of anxiety, depression and substance use disorders in Australian male-dominated industries. The research questions addressed are shown below, and pertained specifically to the clinical significance of these disorders.

  • What are the prevalence rates of depression, anxiety and substance use disorders in male-dominated industries?
  • What are the awareness levels and attitudes toward depression, anxiety and substance use disorders in male-dominated industries?
  • What are the risk-factors for depression, anxiety and substance use disorders in male-dominated industries?
  • What are the help-seeking behaviours and barriers for depression, anxiety and substance use disorders in male-dominated industries?
  • What industry-specific interventions have been effective in addressing depression, anxiety and substance use disorders in the workplace?
  • What are the evidence gaps related to work and depression, anxiety and substance use disorders in male-dominated industries?

Male-dominated industries were defined as those that had a majority of male workers and comprised:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • Building and construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Transport, postal and warehousing
  • Utilities.


Research on prevalence, awareness and attitudes, help-seeking, risk factors, and interventions was examined. 135 research articles were located and gaps documented.

Key findings  

Key findings from international and very limited Australian research indicated:

  • overall, mental health disorders were not elevated in male dominated industries
  • construction and mining industry workers may have elevated prevalence rates of depression and anxiety. Prevalence of mental health disorders varied substantially between occupational groups within the same industry
  • some non-male-dominated industries/occupations may have higher mental health disorder prevalence rates than male-dominated industries/occupations
  • suicide rates appear higher in some male-dominated industries such as agriculture, transport and construction
  • a higher prevalence of problematic alcohol and other drug use exists among workers in male-dominated industries.

No studies were found that examined awareness levels and attitudes towards mental health and substance use disorders in male-dominated industries and there was limited research on help-seeking in male-dominated industries.

Risk factors for mental health and substance use disorders included:

  • lack of supervisor support
  • poor working conditions; job demands, job overload, job insecurity,work-life imbalance
  • work setting factors conducive to risky alcohol or drug use.

Effective interventions were limited. Those that showed promise were largely multi-modal and included, alcohol screening, social support, peer interventions, workload adjustment, improved work environments, and policy implementation.

Gaps in the literature identified through this review included:

  • consistent prevalence measures
  • levels of workplace awareness and attitudes
  • aetiological, causal or contributory factors
  • effective measures to promote help-seeking
  • characteristics of effective interventions.

Scope exists to extrapolate findings from related work on anxiety, depression and substance disorders, help-seeking behaviours, attitudes, risk factors, and interventions and build on initiatives and occupational health and safety awareness in male-dominated industries to implement interventions.

Future research could involve secondary analyses of Australian national datasets and prospective longitudinal studies, primary cohort studies, and well controlled intervention studies. An opportunity exists to identify a common set of measures from the current knowledge base, and evaluate their implementation.


For more information about workplace mental health resources and training (including e-learning) visit Heads Up

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