Mental health staff on long-term stress leave rises by 22%

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The number of NHS mental health staff who have had to take sick leave because of their own mental health issues has risen by 22 per cent in the past five years.

Those taking long-term leave of a month or more rose from 7,580 in 2012-13 to 9,285 in 2016-17, the BBC reports.

Out of 81 mental health authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 58 provided the BBC with comparable information.

The story comes to light after research released earlier this month highlighted that 5.8 million workers have gone into work when feeling mentally unwell, showing that the issue is not limited to workers within the NHS.

Further official figures from the NHS show that nearly a third of fit notes handed out by GPs are now for mental health problems.

One mental health doctor who had to take mental health leave told 5 live anonymously:

“I don’t think I realised it was happening until quite a long way down the road.”

She explained that she was getting irritable with her partner, her sleep was disturbed and she couldn’t switch off from work.

“In the end, I went to my GP who offered me a sick note. I was quite taken aback that it was quite so obvious to my GP that I needed to be off work.” she said.

“As mental health practitioners, we are pretty rubbish at putting our own mental health first. You need to put your own oxygen mask on first before putting it on to someone else.”

Dave Munday, mental health professional lead at union Unite said:

“These figures are of real concern and they only tell part of the story.

“We know that many more mental health professionals will feel unwell but try to ‘soldier on’ or mask the real reason they’re taking leave.

“Our members tell us workplace stress is increasing and that cuts to staff and services mean they’re working longer hours with fewer resources.

“Staff themselves are feeling the impact of austerity and there’s a lack of trust in the often repeated but not fulfilled promises of the current government.”

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