The growing impact of anxiety on the Angus Council workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic has been revealed in a set of newly released figures.
The local authority lost 12 times more days to psychological conditions than to the Covid-19 virus itself during the pandemic’s first wave.
The number of days lost to anxiety in the six months between April and September 2020 in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is approaching the total for the whole of Angus Council’s 2019/20 financial year.
Councillor and mental health campaigner Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat, highlighted the concerning increase in anxiety.
He said: “Restrictions have been in place to stop the spread of the virus. But this has inevitably increased social isolation.
“Poor mental health was already a growing issue before the pandemic but now it has been amplified.
“We need to be sensible and stick to the rules. The sooner we beat coronavirus, the sooner we can get back to some sense of normality,” he added.
The unpublished figures, which were released after a freedom of information request, indicate the scale of the challenge faced by employers as workers come to terms with the virus’s impact on their mental health.
From April to September 2020, Angus council staff missed 532 full time equivalent days due to Covid-19.
More than 6,600 days were lost during the same period due to psychological issues.
Workers put around 1,400 of those absences during the six month period down to anxiety.
The entire number of days lost to the same issue in the previous financial year, including the first month of lockdown, was 1868.
The numbers include all local authority staff, including teachers, waste disposal workers and executive staff.
Councillor Lawrie, who has been hailed for sharing his own personal struggles with mental health, said help was available to those who needed it.
“Don’t suffer alone,” he stressed,
“Many workplaces, including Angus Council, have support in place for employees who are struggling to cope. I urge anyone who is struggling to ask for help.
He said tackling mental health problems would be the next challenge after defeating the virus itself.
“The national focus for now is on defeating the virus. Once we beat it, I would like to see this shifted to a national focus on wellbeing.
“Making mental health services quickly accessible for all is only part of the answer. We need to prevent poor mental health in the first place. That starts with building a society we can be happy to live in.”
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