About 10 per cent of social workers used alcohol or tranquillisers to ease the pressure of their workload, a survey has found. The Baptist University's social work department conducted the poll, which interviewed about 544 frontline social workers employed by non-government organisations between April and May. The findings showed 84 per cent of them worked overtime in the previous two weeks, an average of nine hours more than their regular hours each week. The survey has a confidence level of 95 per cent. Nearly 40 per cent had to apply for sick leave because of a heavy workload, and most blamed the high number of cases they had to handle as the major source of work pressure. A total of 25 per cent said they suffered from depression and anxiety. Though most of the social workers polled said they sought help from families, colleagues and friends, 10 per cent said they drank alcohol or took tranquillisers for relief from stress. 'Social workers are human beings and they also have their own problems and worries. But there is not much help for social workers with emotional problems at present,' said Marcus Chiu Yu-lung of Baptist University's social work department. 'Those who work for NGOs are under even more pressure than government social workers, as they are further troubled by the problem of limited resources.' Dr Chiu suggested setting up a backup team of experts to offer assistance to social workers with emotional problems. Legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who represents the social welfare sector, is considering setting up a social workers' aid hotline. The Social Welfare Department said the government had already provided more resources for social services. 'The department is hiring more social workers to strengthen manpower supply. We also offer assistance and training to help social workers to ease their pressure,' the department said.