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Councils' mental health absence rises

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Councils are being warned of a fall in productivity due to a rise in mental health problems among local government workers.

According to Active Health Partners (AHP), there was a 45% increase in the number of days lost due to depression, stress and tiredness among council employees from April to June 2009, compared to the same period in 2008.

A study of a database of 30,000 workers across the public and private sector found the number of working days in local government lost to mental health problems in spring 2009 was 1,211, compared to 832 for the same period in 2008.

AHP is warning councils that they should “carefully monitor” workers taking time off and keep track of the mental health risk profile, known as the Simple Risk Estimate (SRE).

The SRE, which is calculated by multiplying the frequency of absence by the mean number of days of absence, was 47.32 for local government workers in spring 2009 compared with 39.98 in spring 2008.

AHP chief executive Bruce Robinson said: “The point at which we consider absence to be a significant problem to an industry is creeping closer.”

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