Anxiety, mental health, and depression remains the top reason for long term absence among employees of Cambridgeshire County Council. Long term absence is considered as being 21 days or longer – the same issues are, however, only fourth when it comes to short term absences.
Figures to be presented to the strategy and resources committee on October 31 says that the actual full time equivalent (FTE) days lost due to absence related to anxiety, mental health, depression, and stress is lower than levels that experienced at the start of 2022.
And the average absence by FTE (related to anxiety, mental health, depression, and stress) has also decreased and is also in line with the figure the council saw at the start of 2022 (2.7 days per FTE).
“Stress is the second top reason for long term absence,” says figures to be presented to the committee.
“As this metric is based on rolling 12-month data, it continues to be important to monitor this metric over the coming months.”
Multiple interventions to support employees
The report says that employee mental health is supported by multiple interventions including the employee assistance scheme (EAP), which is used by a fifth of council workers.
1087 calls were made to the service from June 2022 to May 2023, of which 924 were counselling calls.
“Counselling cases include a mixture of face to face, telephone, and online sessions, with online being by far the most used,” says the report.
The top 3 reasons for counselling calls were anxiety (289), low mood (164), and partner (98).
82 calls related to ‘employment’, with the most reasons within that being role, support, and demands. Only 5 related to change and 4 to redundancy.
There were 7 management referral cases.
The report says that, excluding schools, who now have their own contract, the directorates with the highest call numbers were adults and safeguarding (229), children’s social care (184), and strategy and partnerships (105).
“Wellbeing-related training continues to be well attended, with more than 200 people having completed the wellbeing and mental health awareness workshop, which launched this year, and 470 having completed the e-learning,” says the report.
“Our popular menopause awareness workshops have created opportunities to hear feedback from colleagues about how to improve wellbeing at work, such as the trial of emergency period products in selected office buildings.”
The report says the council provides interventions aimed at support for mental health and to reduce absence related to mental health conditions. These include:
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
Occupational Health Access to Work/ Remploy
Return to work meetings
Wellbeing Conversations and Wellness Action Plans Phased return/reasonable adjustments/SARA
Mental Health First Aiders
Agile/flexible working options
Mental Health Awareness Training (procurement complete) Wellbeing Hours, blogs, and promotion of resources
Psychological support for social care teams via the ICS Hub
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