Council staff struggling with mental health - report

Suffolk County Council headquarters in Ipswich
Suffolk County Council says it has a range of support available for its staff [BBC]

More than 350 Suffolk 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 will be presented during a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

It shows an increase in occupational health referrals of 25.4% over the past year, following a 6.5% decrease the year before.

A council spokesperson said the health and wellbeing of its employees was a "priority".

According to the figures, out of 869 diagnosed occupational health cases, 42% were 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, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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 1% and 3% this year, while musculoskeletal pain saw a 3% decrease.

Making up around the largest part of the council’s employees, at 42%, the children and young people department saw the highest number of diagnosed mental health cases, with 175.

The report also showed although the majority of cases were not work-related, the remaining were either directly attributed to work or "exacerbated by the individual’s role with the county council".

'Range of support'

The spokesperson for the county council said: "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 listening."

The spokesperson added that the council also offers an employee assistance programme as well as over the phone and face to face counselling.

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