NEW mental health and wellbeing specialists will be trained in an effort to reduce the impact of stress, anxiety and depression at the city council.

The authority will create 10 specialists, who will go on a certified training course and will be able to ‘provide on-going corporate resilience’.

It said it is working with the mental health charity Mind and is also running a corporate mental health programme in an effort to cut lost days.

It said it was looking at whether a pilot programme could be introduced at the end of the year to give staff training on personality disorders.

The average figure for sickness days for staff has crept up over recent years at the city council to 8.69 days per person in 2017/18. That is up from 6.81 days in 2015/16 and 7.59 days in 2016/17.

However, at the end of July, the average number of days was 6.06 days per member of staff for 2018/19.

A city council report notes: “The growth over recent years of sickness absence linked to mental health related issues, such as stress, depression and anxiety, has had a significant impact on the council’s overall levels of sickness absence rates, an experience that is common to most public sector employers.”

But days off vary considerably across departments. Senior management had no sick days at all, for example.

The council notes in documents that the average absence rate for public sector organisations is 6.1 days for a full-time worker. In the private sector, that falls to 4.1 days.

The city council’s scrutiny panel will be asked to note the report and the efforts to stop some absences at a meeting at Oxford Town Hall tonight.