Stress, anxiety, mental health and depression prompt rise in days off 

County council days off through stress and anxiety

The chart presented to Cambridgeshire County Council strategy and resources committee. It gives an indication of FTE days off (over a rolling 12 month period) to anxiety, mental health, depression and stress - Credit: CCC

Anxiety, mental health, depression and stress are attributed to a rise in the number of days taken off by staff at Cambridgeshire County Council. 

A report to the council’s strategy and resources committee says that as of March 2022, the average employee has taken three days per year off due to anxiety, mental health, depression or stress.  

“This increase in absence related to anxiety, mental health, depression and stress can be linked to a general increase in absence during the pandemic, throughout the last two years,” says the report.  

An employee assistance scheme (EAP) which supports mental health issue has seen an overall increase of 35 per cent of calls to the service in March 21-Feb 22, compared with the previous year of April 20- March 21. 

EAP is available on an app and offers support access, including live chat and the details of the helpline, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. 

Staff were recently reminded everyone that this can also be accessed by dependent family members as well 

Included in the top four reasons for calling were 'anxiety,' (201 calls) 'low mood' (119) and 'depression' (47).  

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Those calling for 'bereavement' support also increased by 83 per cent in 21-22, which the report notes “could also be linked to the pandemic.  

“At the start of EAP therapy during April 20- March 21, five per cent of employees were out of work, and half (2.5 per cent) returned by the end of therapy.  

“This year (March 21-Feb 22) 19.35 per cent of employees accessing the counselling were out of work and 8 per cent returned to work after the end of therapy”. 

The council says it is working to develop a bespoke referral route for social care colleagues to access enhanced support for conditions affecting their mental health and wellbeing.  

And it has doubled the number of trained Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs). 

“Fifty employee volunteers offer a non-judgemental listening ear and signposting to other sources of support,” says the report.  

Part of the report also notes that staff turnover in all areas of the council has increased in the last year, similar to most organisations.  

The council says it is recruiting a retention advisor in the recruitment team within HR Services. This role will have a focus on social care (children's and adults).