West Suffolk councils see 124% increase in staff sick days due depression, stress and anxiety

West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmund

West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmund - Credit: Archant

Sick days due to depression, stress and anxiety at two west Suffolk councils have risen by more than 124% compared to the 2013/14 period.

Figures requested by the EADT show that the Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury councils have managed to improve the absence rate overall, despite the increase.

The average number of days off sick per member of staff has dropped from about seven a year between 2009 to 2013, to just four a year up until December 2014.

A spokeswoman from mental health charity Suffolk Mind said: “Whilst mental health and wellbeing problems are not always caused by the working environment, organisations often experience the impact of the symptoms.

“As well as working with individuals, we also work with businesses, to help managers raise awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing problems.

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“We are seeing a rise in the number of Suffolk employers seeking support for their workers which is encouraging.

“We understand that some managers lack confidence or have the know-how to address mental health specifically. We have a range of services we offer to organisations to support the wellbeing of their employees.”

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A spokesman for the West Suffolk councils partnership said: “We monitor all sickness, which includes non work-related illnesses or accidents, very carefully and, where appropriate, refer staff to occupational health for assessment so they can receive suitable treatment and return to work as soon as possible.”

A total of 215 days were taken off sick due to stress, anxiety and depression in the period 2013 to 2014, compared 483 in the 2014/15 period, which ends in April this year.

In the last six years, over 2,600 staff absences were caused by the three mental health issues, which is 10% of all staff absences.

In this period the total number of staff at the councils, which have merged to form the West Suffolk partnership, has dropped by 230 to 655.

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