More than one-quarter of fly-in, fly-out workers from WA remote mining and construction sites report high psychological distress, according to a study.

The most frequently reported causes of stress were missing special events, relationship problems with partners, financial stress, shift rosters and social isolation.

The high rate — more than twice the rate of the general community — has prompted concerns that not enough is being done to protect the mental health of workers.

The study of more than 1100 FIFO workers, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found that 28 per cent had high or very high psychological distress, compared with 10.8 per cent for Australia overall.

In addition 22 per cent of workers rated their own mental health as poor or fair compared with 14 per cent of the general population.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University, Rural and Remote Health SA and Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence for Youth Mental Health, surveyed FIFO workers from 10 mining sites in WA and SA.

“High psychological distress was significantly more likely in workers aged 25-34 years and workers on a two weeks on/one week off roster,” they wrote.

“Workers who were very or extremely stressed by their assigned tasks or job, their current relationship, or their financial situation were significantly more likely to have high or very high scores than those not stressed by these factors.

“Workers who reported stress related to stigmatisation of mental health problems were at the greatest risk of high or very high psychological distress.”

The researchers said the strongest predictor of psychological distress overall was fear of stigmatisation for mental health problems.

“Workers who reported being stressed by this factor were 20 times as likely to have high or very high levels of distress.

“Given that 40 per cent of respondents rated stigma a source of stress, this finding is alarming, and highlights the importance of early interventions and suicide prevention programs based on improving mental health literacy,” they wrote.

“Our findings have the potential to inform health and safety policy and practice more broadly, particularly given the growing awareness of the levels of mental distress and suicide rates among workers in this industry.”

If you or someone who know is thinking about suicide phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.