‘Quarter of council workers’ sought help for mental health

More than 12,000 Unison members working across Scotland’s councils were asked about the pandemic’s toll on their health.

‘Quarter of council workers’ sought help for mental health iStock
Mental health: Eight in 10 council workers say stress levels have risen.

More than a quarter of local government workers in Scotland have sought medical help for mental health issues in the past year, a trade union survey has indicated.

More than 12,000 Unison members working across Scotland’s councils were asked about the pandemic’s toll on their health over the past year, with eight in ten saying their stress levels had risen.

Respondents included care workers, school support staff, social workers and housing staff among others, said Unison Scotland.

The findings “lay bare the enormous sacrifices these workers have made to keep our services going” and they need support to “provide them with the reward and recognition that they deserve”, said the union’s head of local government, Johanna Baxter.

The survey also indicates that six in ten workers had to do more work than usual and more than a third said they had lost annual leave due to work pressure.

Some 27% said they had sought professional help over their mental health in the past year.

Ms Baxter said in a statement: “These findings should be deeply troubling for local authorities across Scotland.

“This report lays bare the enormous sacrifices these workers have made to keep our services going – forgoing their own annual leave, coming into work even when they have suffered bereavements themselves and adapting to changes in the workplace and their own roles.

“Urgent action is needed right now to support these frontline workers and provide them with the reward and recognition that they deserve.”

Mark Ferguson, Unison Scotland local government chairman, said: “We know that our members have been going above and beyond to keep our local services running during the pandemic but this report shows the impact this past year has had on their health”.

He added “it is clear that more needs to be done to support our members and to recognise their efforts through their pay and rewards”.

Some 12,077 Unison members working in different roles across every local authority in Scotland were surveyed online between March 26 and April 13.

The survey represents 15% of Unison membership in Scottish local government.