Working women more likely to experience mental illness

Working women in Australia are up against it when it comes to mental health, research shows.

Latest insights from SuperFriend show working women are much more likely to experience a mental health condition in their lifetime than their male counterparts.

According to SuperFriend, almost a quarter of all working Australian women are experiencing a mental health condition.

The report also shows 55% of women in the workforce have experienced a mental health condition in their lifetime.

The report - which draws on the work of SuperFriend's annual Indicators of a Thriving Workplace research - demonstrates women feel less positive than men about their workplace, with only 10% of women feeling "strongly optimistic" the state of mental health and wellbeing in their workplace would improve in the future.

SuperFriend chief executive Margo Lydon said the report shows mental health remains a significant issues for working women. The different workplace experiences of men and women might be attributable to their respective level of representation in senior management, Lydon suggested.

"While employee wellbeing has been rising up the agenda for many organisations, these findings show that there is still a long way to go in creating happier, healthier workplaces for all, regardless of gender," Lydon said.

What is clear is the gender gap is still an issue in many organisations, she said.

"Overall, we found women had very different workplace experiences to men, perhaps because men are more heavily represented in senior management roles with a higher share of voice in workplace policies and practices," Lydon said.

A myriad of positive steps are available improve the workplace experience for women.

"At a time when gender equality, workplace relations and attracting and retaining women across all industries is of key importance, there are many steps organisations can take to make their workplaces more inclusive," Lydon said.

These include having qualified female candidates on shortlists for management roles even if they're on parental leave; improving return to work policies; analysing like-for-like gender pay gaps; and offering greater flexibility regardless of gender to help achieve work-life balance.

"The most successful organisations today are the ones that are committed to diversity and inclusion and creating an environment in which all employees can thrive," she said.

Read more: SuperFriendAustraliaMargo LydonIndicators ofThriving Workplace
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