A third of long-term absences in NHS Tayside were caused by stress, depression or anxiety, it has emerged.
New figures provided to the Tele show that 1,441 people have been off sick for a period of more than 28 days — a total of 492,551 hours lost.
Of that number, 144,584 hours were lost because staff were suffering from anxiety, stress, depression or other psychiatric illnesses.
Graham Nelson, a Unite rep at Ninewells Hospital, said: “The levels do appear high and management used to put people under a lot of stress.
“But there has been an improvement in the way stress is being handled now and they are really on top of it.
“It is a stressful place but I would think the levels should be lower this year.”
George Doherty, NHS Tayside director of human resources, said there has been “significant” progress made, adding that the health board was performing better than the Scottish average for absence rates.
He said: “We recognise that improving the health and wellbeing of our staff improves patient safety and the delivery of compassionate care.
“We continue to make significant progress and for the last three successive years, NHS Tayside has achieved a sickness absence rate lower than the NHS Scotland average.
“The most recent nationally-published figures for 2016/17 again show that for the year to November 2016 we performed better than the NHS Scottish average throughout the year.
“It is important to acknowledge that, like every other workplace, the pressures of life — whether at work or at home — can sometimes impact the mental health and wellbeing of those who work with us every day providing services to patients.”
Mr Doherty said that NHS Tayside takes a number of steps to mitigate absence issues.
He added: “We work closely with our local trade unions to tackle these issues together.”
“In addition to a ‘Live Positive’ toolkit, which provides advice and signposting for staff on coping with issues that may affect them, we have developed a range of policies and offer specialist services through our Occupational Health team and colleagues from our Wellbeing Centre aimed at supporting staff with their individual resilience, wellbeing and positive mental health.”