NHS launches mental health hotline for staff members tackling coronavirus

The NHS has launched a mental health hotline to help its 1.4 million staff members with the pressures of tackling coronavirus.

The hotline, which will be manned by thousands of specially trained volunteers, will offer psychological support to those in need.

The service has been set up with assistance from various charities including Hospice UK, the Samaritans and Shout, who have provided the hotline with 1,500 trained phone handling volunteers.

There's also a partnership with charities Headspace, UnMind and Big Health, which are providing a suite of apps for no charge to assist staff with their mental health.

The apps offer support in everything from guided meditation, tools to battle anxiety and help with sleep problems.

The phone lines will be manned 7am and 11pm every day, while a text service will be 24/7.

Anyone, who after the phone call still requires help, will be directed to other services ranging from practical and financial assistance through to specialist bereavement and psychological support.

Health Minister Edward Argar told ITV News the hotline is "important" because NHS staff, who are doing an "amazing" job, will be under "very real pressure".

"So it's absolutely vital we look after their mental health as well as giving them all the support they need."

The NHS Chief People Officer Prerana Issar said the service will have a range of offerings, from "one to one mental health support to a sympathetic voice to confide in".

She added: "The NHS is rightly doing everything we can for our staff, but the best thing that 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.”

Chief Executive of NHS Employers Danny Mortimer said it is "extremely heartening" to see this kind of support being offered to NHS teams.

"As the pandemic continues, our people will face new and growing challenges on a daily basis, and it’s therefore more important than ever that they are able to access resources to help them manage their wellbeing, in a way that suits their needs," he added.

  • The phone number for the NHS hotline is 0300 131 7000 while staff can text FRONTLINE to 85258

  • Samaritans also operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123