Although anxiety, depression and work-related stress can be connected, they are different things. It is important to recognize that anxiety and depression are clinical health conditions, while stress is not. The World Health Organization defines work-related stress as: “The reaction people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”. Potential causes of work-related stress include:
Time pressures, including inadequate time and resources to complete jobs satisfactorily;
Bullying, harassment, and discrimination;
Poorly managed change;
According to the data below 22.5% of Folkestone & Hythe District Council staff took more than four days of due to illness in 2017/18. This would allow them to claim statutory sick pay. A year later on, those taking four days or more off fell to 17.1%, a reduction of 5% approximately.
However, in contrast to this, those who took four or more days of work due to stress, depression, anxiety, mental health issues and/or fatigue rose from 4.87% to 5.5%. The vast majority of these people needing to take time of were women. This maybe a small increase, but it is an increase nonetheless.
Workplace stress and poor working mental health has cost our Council £129,148 for the financial years 2017/18 & 18/19 to present. And those taking more than four days leave of absence is £354,608. So together this not far short of half a million pounds in cost to staff illness. A staggering amount. Stuttering productivity, extended absence and falling staff retention rates are all symptoms of a creeping problem perhaps.
The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Work related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018 reveals that in the 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54 females had significantly higher rates of work related stress depression or anxiety than men and that this has been the case since at least 2010.
The report goes onto say:
Other factors identified included a lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence and role uncertainty. (No women should be subject to violence at work, given the fact it could be be your wife, your daughter, your partner or girlfriend.)
The report concludes:
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety continues to represent a significant ill health condition in the workforce of Great Britain. Work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounts for 44% of work-related ill health and 57% of working days lost, in 2017/18. The occupations and industries reporting the highest rates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety remain consistently in the health and public sectors of the economy. The reasons cited as causes of work-related stress involve workload, lack of managerial support and organisational change as the primary causative factors.
The fact most of the prolonged absences at the Council are female is not an accident. What’s true in our Council is also true in East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust as well.
In an FoI response from East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) supports the HSE reports findings as
The number of cases of bullying logged as formal complaints by staff (predominately women) with the EKHUFT between 2016 and 2019 to date is:.
2016 = 36
2017 = 75
2018 = 44
2019 = 10
The number of cases of sexual harassment (all women) logged as formal complaints by staff by EKHUFT between 2016 and 2019 to date.
2016 = 4
2017 = 3
2018 = 1
2019 = 0
It is self evident we believe that women in our local Council and our Hospitals which serve East Kent suffer far more from bullying, sexual harassment, work-related stress, depression or anxiety than men. This is due in large part to cultural differences in attitudes and beliefs between male and females around the subject of these significant issues.
No women anywhere in our district, our county or country ought to suffer the indignation of being bullied, sexually harassed or stressed out by colleagues – mainly male – and they MUST be reported and appropriate action taken.
It is abundantly clear to us the culture of paid work is causing significant mental health issues for women in our Council & EKHUFT due to bullying, sexual harassment, work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This needs to change and change soon. It’s clear to us that our Council – Folkestone & Hythe District Council & East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust need a radical overhaul as their female workforce have suffered, are suffering and will continue to suffer if nothing is done.
These women gentlemen are our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our partners and we do not wish any of them to suffer violence, bullying, sexual harassment, work-related stress, depression or anxiety caused in the main by bigoted and insecure men. Be kind, and considerate because Karma has a nasty knack of coming back and biting one on the arse.
If you have been affected or are affected by any of the issues raised in this blog post you can contact
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime