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A charity has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of what it described as the growing mental health crisis among those working on the NHS frontline, as staff increasingly reach out for support .
The Laura Hyde Foundation has launched a nationwide appeal called No Mask for Mental Health – highlighting the lack of protections in place to safeguard mental health.
“The harsh reality of their work is having a significant impact on mental health”
The charity, which provides mental health support for health workers, said it had received an 88% increase in calls which required a clinical response, compared to the same time last year.
Some callers have reported increased stress and anxiety, while others have presented with more serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The foundation is calling on the government to ensure that all NHS trusts can deliver acute mental health care for their staff at the point of need.
A consistent level of mental health support is also a priority in order to avoid a postcode lottery in care provision.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the mental toll of the outbreak on health professionals by targeting platforms such as TV and social media.
It features real health workers seen in videos in the middle of busy and hectic shifts, and the viewer is privy to their inner thoughts, worries and concerns.
The footage include nurses, doctors and other health professionals.
“Unfortunately, there is no [personal protective equipment] for the mind”
The campaign hopes to remind the public that the toll of working during the pandemic will last longer than the peak and have long-term impacts on staff wellbeing.
Jennifer Hawkins, clinical lead at the foundation, said: “Healthcare staff everywhere have been really touched by all the love they’ve been getting from the public, but the label ‘hero’ can, at times, put them under even greater pressure.
“The harsh reality of their work is having a significant impact on mental health – and we must make it okay for medical professionals not to suffer in silence; to prescribe for themselves what they would prescribe for others and ask for help.”
Charity trustee, Imogen Landers, said: “Unfortunately, there is no [personal protective equipment] for the mind – and there are NHS and frontline workers whose trusts simply cannot provide adequately for them.
“Until they do, and the stigma surrounding mental health is removed, we’ll be there.”
Concerns have been growing that nurse mental health is being negatively affected by factors like a lack of equipment, staff shortages, redeployment, the risks posed to themselves, their friends and families and the death of colleagues.
Among other initiatives, it has lead health service trusts around the country to create designated spaces for nurses and other staff who need to emotionally recuperate during the Covid-19 crisis.
The so-called “wobble rooms” are special quiet rooms that staff can visit if they are feeling overwhelmed and need some peace and quiet.
Nursing Times recently launched a new campaign – Covid-19: Are You OK? – which aims to ensure that supporting nurse mental health is firmly on the radar of employers and the government.
A Nursing Times survey that showed almost all nursing staff were feeling more stressed and anxious than usual, with a third describing their mental health as bad during the pandemic.
In addition, health secretary Matt Hancock was questioned by Nursing Times editor Steve Ford during the daily coronavirus briefing at No 10 over what long-term help would be available for staff who had put their lives on the line to get the UK through the crisis.