Welcome support for our frontline Health and Social Care workers!
Undoubtedly the mental health impacts of COVID-19 are likely to be significant and protecting the wellbeing of staff (employed and volunteer) has become a central component of the global public health response to the crisis.
Numerous surveys all point to a sudden marked increase in psychological distress in health and social care staff but much of this will be immediate and a natural response to the current situation. However, it is also clear that for some of those staff who have been offering direct support, the effects on mental health are more severe, may be longer lasting and could include, Acute stress reactions; Professional burnout; Moral injury; and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Health and Social Care Workforce (niassembly.gov.uk) offers a useful review of the impact and recommends a three stage approach to supporting staff.
Stage 1 – prioritising practical support
Stage 2 – employing informal psychological intervention
Stage 3 – formalised mental health treatment
There is clear guidance that providing intense psychological support too early, such as debriefing and other conventional approaches, has been found to be counterproductive and can actually increase PTSD symptoms but that the priority should be to provide practical ‘psychological first aid’ which includes access to empathetic listening and resources aimed at improving wellbeing and resilience.
St Giles Hospice has been working with University Hospital Derby and Burton (UHDB) to provide a ‘psychological first aid’ approach to support their staff. Feedback from staff on the benefits of this approach have been positive and supported by the experience of service managers:
“Initially there was some apprehension due to the perception of this being a ‘counselling’ type session as opposed to a listening ear with discussion. Once the first few colleagues had attended this altered and more staff began to come forward. The feedback that we had from the staff was of a positive nature and requested further sessions especially as the next wave is upon us in full force.”
FREE confidential support sessions for people who have been impacted by loss and change (including, but not exclusive to, bereavement) during the Covid-19 pandemic. The first session is on Monday 22 February at 2pm via Zoom. The focus of the support will be primarily to assist staff and volunteers to process their experiences of working through the Coronavirus pandemic. This includes people who have been furloughed.