Suffolk council staff struggling with mental health – report – BBC News

Screenshot, Suffolk County Council says it has a range of support available for its staff

  • Author, John Santos
  • Role, Local Democracy Information Service

More than 350 Suffolk County Council staff are battling depression, stress and anxiety, a report shows.

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% decline the previous year.

A council spokesman said the health and wellbeing of its employees was a “priority”.

According to the figures, of the 869 diagnosed occupational health cases, 42% were related to mental health, including stress, depression and anxiety.

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

The children and young people department, which accounts for roughly the majority of council staff (42%), recorded the highest number of diagnosed mental health cases, at 175.

The report also showed that while most cases were not work-related, the remainder were either directly attributed to work or “exacerbated by the individual’s role on the county council”.

‘Support range’

The county council spokesman 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 services are in themselves a supportive measure that allows line managers to seek clinical advice and support on how they can best support employees with mental health issues at work and while absent.

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“Suffolk County Council offers a range of mental health support; the council currently has approximately 49 active and fully trained mental health first responders providing care.”

The spokesperson added that the council also offers an employee assistance programme, as well as telephone and face-to-face counselling.

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