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Number of NHS mental health staff taking long-term stress-related leave rockets

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Mental health staff see substantial rise in stress Mental health staff see substantial rise in stress

The number of NHS mental health staff taking sick leave due to their own mental health has shot up by 22% in the last 5 years.

A BBC Freedom of Information request found that Numbers of mental health staff taking long-term leave (over a month) had risen from 7,580 in 2012-13 to 9,285 in 2016-17.

Dave Munday, Unite union’s mental health professional lead, said: ‘These figures are of real concern and they only tell part of the story.’

Unite said that cuts to staffing and services meant additional pressure and stress for front-line mental health workers. ‘Our members tell us workplace stress is increasing and that cuts to staff and services mean they’re working longer hours with fewer resources’, said Munday.

The findings come from 58 out of 81 mental health authorities in the UK that provided the BBC with information and has reignited debates concerning the health of NHS workers.

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: ‘mental health staff face unique challenges. The pressure to make the right decision and provide care for extremely vulnerable people against a backdrop of staff shortages, can take its toll on their health and wellbeing.

‘This isn't good enough. We want to see action on work-related stress, including violence at work which, as well as physical injuries, adds to burnout stress, and depression.’

Speaking on BBC radio 5 live, one anonymous mental health doctor said: ‘I don’t think I realised it was happening until quite a long way down the road.’

Munday argued that ‘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.’

The Department of Health has responded to such findings and said: ‘we are transforming mental health care for everyone in this country, including NHS employees, with record amounts of investment.’

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