Throughout this devastating Covid-19 pandemic, there has been widespread recognition that NHS health and social care staff have faced been negatively affected.
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust's Psychology and Psychotherapy (P&P) team have led the work with partners to develop a single point of access to provide staff support across the South East London Integrated Care System (ICS). This includes staff from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), King's College Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas', South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust - approximately 100,000 health and social care staff work in the region. The new Keeping Well website provides free, fast and confidential wellbeing and psychological support for all health and social care staff.
The website provides 24/7 access to self-help resources, help for teams and managers, self-assessment tools for people to develop their personalised support package, and links to other helpful information. Staff in need of mental health support are signposted to south east London IAPT services (in Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich) for priority assessment and treatment.
David Bradley, Chief Executive at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said:
"Health and social care staff have worked tirelessly and relentlessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It is important to recognise the impact the last 14 months of the pandemic have had on people's psychological wellbeing. This website is an excellent new resource offering NHS staff across south east London access to a wide range of different options of support available to them."
The site, which was made available for beta-testing in March, launched on Monday 17 May. It includes a live chat function where staff can text, talk directly or video call a Keeping Well practitioner for advice, and signpost the best options for whatever support they might need. From 24 May, there will also be a dedicated phone line, available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
NHS England are funding several initiatives across the country to develop and improve staff support. Funding has now been released for this work to move into a second phase focused on increasing digital access to health and wellbeing support for staff. This will see further development of the website content and functions, including online forums for staff. There will be a particular focus on the needs of staff from ethnic minorities.
Recent studies found rates of PTSD at 24.31% in NHS staff compared to 4.4% amongst the general population. Rates of depression were found to be 37.51% in NHS staff compared to 31% of the general population, and rates of anxiety at 38.32% in NHS staff compared to 25.20% of the general population. This highlights the increased level of mental health needs of health and social care staff compared to the general public. There is evidence around delayed presentations at mental health services, and low levels of help seeking behaviours amongst healthcare staff indicating a need for a proactive approach to delivering mental health care (Lowell et al 2018). There is also evidence to suggest that particular staff groups may be disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic (Kiseley et al 2020). The NHS is a diverse and inclusive employer and should ensure support for staff who have an underlying physical or mental health condition that may be made worse by the pandemic. One in five NHS staff come from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, a population which has been particularly adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Lai, J., Ma, S., Wang, Y., Cai, Z., Hu, J., Wei, N., … Hu, S. (2020). Factors Associated with Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Network Open, 3(3), e203976
- Zhang, C., Yang, L., Liu, S., Ma, S., Wang, Y., Cai, Z., … Zhang, B. (2020). Survey of Insomnia and Related Social Psychological Factors Among Medical Staff Involved in the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreak. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11
Mental Health statistics
- House of Commons Library. (2020). Briefing Paper No. 6988. Mental Health Statistics for England: Prevalence, Services and Funding. London. UK
- Mental Health UK Study – N=3097(UK Public) – C19 UK Public Survey N=53,328 (UK Public)
- NHS Check N = 10,281 (NHS Staff) – NHS Trauma Group -N = 1,211 (NHS & Social Care Staff)
Healthcare workers - groups disproportionately affected
- Kiseley, S., Warren, N., … (2020) Occurrence, prevention, and management of the psychological effects of emerging virus outbreaks on healthcare workers: rapid review and meta-analysis, BMJ 2020;369:m1642
Delayed presentation in mental health services
- Lowell A, Suarez-Jimenez B, Helpman L, Zhu X, Durosky A, Hilburn A, Schneier F, Gross R, Neria Y. 9/11-related PTSD among highly exposed populations: a systematic review 15 years after the attack. Psychol Med. 2018; 48:537–553doi: 10.1017/S0033291717002033