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How COVID-19 is Impacting Construction Workers

Feb. 1, 2022
Now, more than ever, construction workers need mental health support.

Construction workers already struggles with addiction, overdose and suicide. Now, data shows how workers’ mental health have fared during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) took a deep dive into feelings of anxiety and/or depression in the January 2022 edition of its Data Bulletin.

Anxiety and depression have worsened during the pandemic, based on data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 2011 to 2018 and 2020, which focused on self-reported symptoms, patterns and changes during the pandemic.

Researchers compared prevalence of anxiety and/or depression across worker demographics, socioeconomic status and certain health indicators. They noted that because of survey methodology changes in 2020 and fewer respondents during the pandemic.

Still, the findings are concerning:

  • In 2020, 14.3% of NHIS respondents reported they had feelings of anxiety and 5.9% had feelings depression.
  • Between 2019 and 2020, 42.9% of workers reported feeling more anxious and/or depressed, including 37.3% who felt more anxious and 18.4% who felt more depressed.
  • Prevalence of anxiety and/or depression was highest in workers who were ages 18-34 years old (17.9%) compared with other age groups.
  • Anxiety/depression was also more common among certain categories of respondents: females (23.6%), non-Hispanics (18.1%) and those living in the Midwest or West (more than 19%).
  • Those who reported good, fair or poor general health were more likely to report anxiety and/or depression than those with excellent or very good health (18.6% versus 13.4%).  
  • More than a third (36.3%) of respondents considered themselves not in very good or excellent health, and 27.8% were uninsured.
  • Nearly one in five (19.2%) of workers who drank heavily throughout the past year reported anxiety and/or depression compared to those who didn’t (15.1%).
  • Workers who used prescription opioids in the past year were more likely to report anxiety and/or depression compared to those who didn’t (38.8% versus 13.6%).
  • In 2020, 7.9% of survey respondents reported they lived below the poverty threshold. Prevalence of anxiety and/or depression was slightly higher in workers with a family income below the poverty threshold (18.4%) versus those at or above poverty (15.1%). However, anxiety and/or depression was lower in blue-collar workers (13.2%) versus white-collar jobs (21.4%).

Read more findings and access support resources here.

About the Author

Nicole Stempak

Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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