8th Dec, 2019

Rise in staff mental health related leave at Solihull Council

John Carlon 3rd Dec, 2019

SOLIHULL Council staff are increasingly reporting as struggling with mental health, according to absence records.

More than one third of staff absences were attributed to stress.

Recent figures from the council show depression, anxiety and stress were the main reasons given for time off work.

In a third of cases, the absent staff member’s mental health was attributed to ‘personal reasons’.

In total, 36.39 per cent of staff who have taken sick leave in 2019 were away because of reported mental health issues.

For the year from October 2017 to September 2018, the proportion was 33.41 per cent, rising from the previous year, when 29.7 per cent of absences were attributed to stress.

In an agenda report to councillors, the council’s head of human resources Adrian Cattell said: “36 per cent of the reported mental health absence is purely for personal reasons.

“The levels of mental health absence are broadly the same across the four largest directorates (excluding Public Health) and range from 33.4 to 38.4 per cent of total absence.

“As an individual category therefore this is the single highest reason for sickness absence.”

Time off overall was down from 11.75 days per full time equivalent employee up to August 31 2018, down to 10.56 days up to March 31 2019.

Mr Cattell added: “Over the last eighteen months the council has rolled out mental health awareness training to managers.

“To date nearly 600 managers have undertaken this training.

“It has been recognised however that there is the need to build on the awareness training to focus on the implementation of the knowledge and skills in the workplace to reduce stigma, prevent mental ill health as well as supporting employees who are experiencing it.

“A further workshop has been designed therefore that will showcase how to use tools including the Line Manager’s resource (active absence management) and the Wellness Recovery Action Plan.”

David Williams, branch manager for Unison at Solihull Council , said: “What we find is that the cuts we have had over the last decade have led to fewer and fewer staff trying to do more.

“Although there are a mix of personal reasons and work reasons, staff are under a great deal of stress because of work – managers can exploit people’s willingness to do a good job despite everything, and put pressure against people’s dedication to their jobs.”

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