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Image description, Suffolk County Council says it is providing a range of support options for its employees

  • Author, Joao Santos
  • Role, Local Democracy Reporting Service

More than 350 Suffolk County Council employees are struggling with 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 that the number of referrals to occupational health specialists increased by 25.4% last year, following a decline of 6.5% the year before.

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

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

Another 138 diagnosed cases were related to joint, bone, muscle and back pain, while 370 were classified as “other” cases.

Both the mental health and other categories saw an increase of 1% and 3% respectively this year, while musculoskeletal pain saw a decrease of 3%.

The Children and Adolescents Department accounts for the largest proportion of the Council's staff (42%). It also recorded the highest number of diagnosed mental illnesses (175 cases).

The report also showed that the majority of cases were not work-related, but the rest were either directly related to work or “exacerbated by the person's function in the district administration.”

“Scope of support”

The county council spokesman said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is Suffolk County Council’s highest priority and this is reflected in our practices.”

“Referral to occupational health is in itself a supportive measure, enabling managers to obtain clinical advice and support on how best to support employees at work and during absence due to mental ill health.

“Suffolk County Council offers a range of mental health support services. The council currently has around 49 active and fully trained mental health first aiders on hand to listen.”

The spokesman added that the council also offers a worker assistance program as well as telephone and face-to-face counseling.

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