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More than 350 council staff struggling with depression, stress, and anxiety, report shows





More than 350 county council staff are struggling with depression, stress, and anxiety, a report has shown.

The annual SHAW report, which looks at safety, health, and wellbeing progress, will be presented during the council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday.

It shows an increase in Occupational Health (OH) referrals, a branch of medicine focusing on the health of staff in the workplace, of 25.4 per cent over the past year, following a small 6.5 per cent decrease the year before.

More than 350 county council staff are struggling with depression, stress, and anxiety, a report has shown. Picture: iStock
More than 350 county council staff are struggling with depression, stress, and anxiety, a report has shown. Picture: iStock

Out of 869 diagnosed OH cases, 42 per cent, or 361, were cases related to mental health, including stress, depression and anxiety — this has led to 10,388 working days being lost due to mental health problems alone.

A further 138 diagnosed cases were related to joint, bone, muscle, and back pain, while 370 were classified as ‘other’.

Both mental health and ‘other’ categories have seen an increase of one and three per cent this year, while musculoskeletal pain saw a three per cent decrease.

The annual SHAW report will be presented during the council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday. Picture: iStock
The annual SHAW report will be presented during the council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday. Picture: iStock

Making up around the largest part of the council’s employees, at 42 per cent, the Children and Young People department saw the highest number of diagnosed mental health cases, with 175.

The report also shows although the majority of cases, 62 per cent, are not work-related, the remaining are either directly attributed to work or exacerbated by the individual’s role with the county council.

A council spokesperson said the authority offers a range of support in relation to mental health, including an Employee Assitance Programme, offering over-the-phone and face-to-face counselling and advice, as well as signposting to action plans and external support.

The spokesperson added: “The health and wellbeing of our employees is a priority for Suffolk County Council which is reflected in our practices.

“Referrals to Occupational Health are themselves a supportive measure, which enables Line Managers to seek clinical advice and support on how they can best support employees in work and absent with mental health conditions.

“Suffolk County Council offers a range of support in relation to Mental Health; The Council currently has approximately 49 active and fully trained Mental Health First Aiders who provide a listening.”