Dozens of mental health hubs are being set up across England to help traumatised NHS staff struggling with their mental health, after treating patients in the COVID-19 pandemic
NHS personnel are encouraged to ring one of the new hubs if they are struggling and will receive advice and referral support from psychologists, therapists, recovery workers and mental health nurses.
Hub staff will also call personnel deemed at higher risk directly to offer assistance. Staff that are deemed higher risk are likely to include those working on COVID wards, A&E units and intensive care (ICU).
The roll out of these hubs comes as there is ever mounting concern that many frontline workers are struggling with their mental health over the last year. A study of 709 frontline NHS workers between June and July 2020 revealed the stark impact of working in intensive care amid a pandemic. Almost half of doctors, nurses and other ICU staff reported struggling with symptoms of severe depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Around 40% had probable PTSD.
Published in the journal Occupational Medicine, the study revealed distressing figures, with more than one in seven clinicians and nearly one in five nurses working in ICU reporting thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
According to another study by the Royal College of Physicians, more than 1 in 4 doctors have sought mental health support during the pandemic, 64% are suffering with exhaustion and 48% are worried.
Chief executive of mental health charity Mind, Paul Farmer stated that about 180,000 frontline workers and NHS staff have already sought support from Frontline, a 24/7 support service for key workers operated by Mind, Samaritans, Shout and Hospice UK.
He said: “We know how tough it’s been for so many frontline NHS staff over the last 12 months…these hubs are an important step forward at this crucial time to signal the support that is available now.”
Several of the NHS mental health hubs are already in operation having been modelled on the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub. This dedicated service was established after the devastating Manchester Arena attack in May 2017 to help NHS staff struggling after helping victims and survivors of the attack. The hub has been a support service over the course of the pandemic, helping more than 4,200 health and social care staff.
If you are struggling with your mental health and need support right now, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 who offer a kind, listening ear to anyone that needs it. They are available 24/7, 365 days a year.
If you need to talk, reach out to a professional counsellor for PTSD, who can offer a safe space to discuss your distress. Search for a professional via Counselling Directory.
Please remember, help is always there.