A new report from Castlerea Senator and Spokesperson on Health & Mental Health, Dr Keith Swanick, has shown that 44% of County and City Councillors have experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety during their term of Office.
The report outlines in detail the challenges facing local authority members and the pressures experienced.
Dr. Swanick sent Mental Health Questionnaires to each Local Authority Member in July and August and says that the responses received were “overwhelmingly detailed”. Commenting on the responses Dr Keith Swanick said “129 County and City Councillors supplied me with substantial levels of personal details, anonymously and confidentially. They penned the challenges they are facing, the grievances they have, the worries they take home and the impact which this is having on their families. They also outlined the positives and many put forward very sensible and realistic solutions” he added.
Other findings from the survey showed that
5% said they had thoughts of self-harm.
20% had to seek medical advice after experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety.
47% suffered from “Low Mood”.
54% experienced Sleep disturbance.
67% had experienced mental stress as a direct result of their role as a Councillor.
68% said the demands of the job would make them consider not running for local government again.
79% said their role as a Councillor is impinged on your family or personal life.
Dr. Swanick also asked the respondents if they felt that Local Authority members should have more support from a psychological and organisational viewpoint and 76% said yes. In addition, 64% would be happy to see the establishment of a “peer support group”.
Commenting on the financial pressures of serving on a local authority one respondent said they had to take out a bridging loan to cover day to day expenses and travel as local authority expenses are paid out in lump sums.