MENTAL HEALTH: 30,000 social worker days lost to mental ill health in just one year

By Lucy Ashton

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today revealed new figures showing that more than 30,000 social worker days were lost to mental ill health in just one year.

27 councils responded to a Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information request, revealing that in 2021/22:

  • 30,649 days were lost to mental ill health.
  • Glasgow reported the highest absences, with 8,539 days lost, followed by North Lanarkshire with 3,387 days lost.

The Scottish Government is currently proposing to fold social work into their plans for a centralised care service.

This comes despite Social Work Scotland and others suggesting that there needed to be more evidence of the benefits to including these services, what should be kept from the current delivery, and more consultation with relevant service users.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, pictured right, said:  “These are shocking figures for just a single year. Social workers deal with some of the toughest cases imaginable and it is no wonder that it takes a toll on people’s mental health.

“The last thing these hardworking staff needs is to be folded into a billion-pound bureaucracy answerable to ministers and insensitive to local demands.

“To make social work a profession of choice, the Scottish Government should be focused on improving pay, conditions and personal development opportunities, rather than making social work just one small part of a vast machine with ministers at the head.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose the SNP’s disastrous and expensive takeover of social work and social care.”

Picture above: Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow.


  1. 30,000 sick days a year, equals circa 600 sick days a week, equals around and average of 20 sick days a week for each of the twenty seven councils that responded, equals around 3 sick days a day per council area averaged.

    There are over 208,000 people employed in social care across Scotland. Of course only a portion of that number will be council employed social workers.

    What therefore would be a meaningful statistic would be what the average 86 sick days a day equals as part of the overall social worker personnel total – and how that compares to other sectors of employee.

    Typical Lib Dem headline grabbing but with numbers that have absolutely no context

  2. Couldn’t find the figures for Scotland but according to the Times Educational Supplement in England there were over 2,000,000 teacher sick days every day over the school year in 2021.

    That’s over 50,000 sick days every week.

    A headline figure. But what does it mean. Maybe Mr Cole Hamilton could explain.

Leave a Reply