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CAERPHILLY: Council staff stress and mental health absences increase

CAERPHILLY: Council staff stress and mental health absences increase

Image: SWNS

Stress-related illnesses are causing Caerphilly County Borough Council staff to take more time off work.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) Request by the council’s Plaid Cymru group revealed that despite overall staff sickness being down, the amount of working days lost to stress, depression, anxiety, mental health and fatigue had increased.

In 2019-20 the number of days lost to mental health and stress-related illnesses was 20,508, but by 2020-21 this had jumped to 24,410.

Councillor Colin Mann, Plaid Cymru group leader, said: “Councillors need to be made aware of what measures the authority is putting in place to try and tackle this issue and help those suffering, for instance, from anxiety and mental health issues.

“As we move out of the pandemic, it is important that we have a workforce that is both well physically and mentally.”

The number of council employees has also fallen from 8,533 in 2019-2020 to 8,296 in 2020-21.

Christina Harrhy, Chief Executive of the council, said there are robust measures in place to “support and nurture” staff, including an ‘Employee Wellbeing Strategy’.

Ms Harrhy said: “Caerphilly Council, like many other public sector organisations, has been significantly impacted by the ongoing pandemic and our employees continue to work tirelessly to deliver key services to the community in the face of unprecedented pressures.”

Ms Harrhy added: “Since the start of the outbreak, I have kept elected members regularly updated about the impact of coronavirus on our staff, services and resources. In addition, all councillors have access to the sickness absence data and HR policy updates, which are reported via the relevant scrutiny committee.

“We will continue to ensure that our workforce is fully supported and that managers have appropriate policies and procedures in place to effectively support the health and wellbeing of our staff.”

Words: Rhiannon James, Local Democracy Reporter

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