Giving our NHS and other key worker carers a national round of applause each Thursday night during the coronavirus pandemic provides a much-needed morale boost, but those working on the frontline every day might need more focussed mental health support.
Now the NHS has launched a dedicated mental health hotline as part of a package of measures to support its 1.4 million staff as they help people deal with the coronavirus.
NHS staff can call or text a free number staffed by thousands of specially trained volunteers, to receive support and advice for the pressures they face every day during the global health emergency. The volunteers will listen to NHS staff and give psychological support to those in need.
Anyone who requires further help will be directed to other services, ranging from practical and financial assistance through to specialist bereavement and psychological support. The phone line is open between 7am and 11pm every day, while the text service will be 24/7.
The package of measures is part of extensive work the NHS is doing to help provide expert care to patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer for the NHS, said: “We need to do everything we can to support our incredible NHS people as they care for people through this global health emergency. That’s why we’ve developed a range of support for all NHS staff from one-to-one mental health support to a sympathetic voice to confide in.
“The NHS is rightly doing everything we can for our staff, but the best thing the public can do if they want to do their bit for nurses, doctors and other NHS staff, is to protect them by staying indoors and washing your hands.”
The more than 1,500 volunteers staffing the phone lines have come from charities including Hospice UK, the Samaritans and Shout. The NHS has also partnered with Headspace, UnMind and Big Health to offer a suite of mobile phone apps for no charge to assist staff with their mental health. They offer support in everything from guided meditation, tools to battle anxiety and help with sleep problems.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “We know our teams are providing tremendous support, not just to the patients they’re treating, but to each other, across the health service.
“It’s extremely heartening to see this kind of support will be available to NHS teams, via phone, text and online. As the pandemic continues, our people will face new and growing challenges on a daily basis, so it’s more important than ever that they are able to access resources to help them manage their wellbeing, in a way that suits their needs.”