Front-line staff at risk of mental health crisis, experts warn

Experts are warning that a mental health crisis could be round the corner for care workers in our region, who've spent months tackling the coronavirus pandemic without addressing their own needs.

As the prospect of a possible second wave looms, health professionals say it's crucial carers are given the right support.

NHS England launched a health and wellbeing webpage at the start of the pandemic for its staff, which it says has been used by thousands of people.

But psychiatrists are warning that many are continuing to work through their mental health struggles and that could be storing up huge problems for the future.

A recent survey of members of the Royal College of Anaesthetists found that:

The people behind the figures:

Newly-qualified as a nurse, Sommer Booth worked at Sheffield Hallam during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She turned 21 during her placement - a milestone she's yet to celebrate.

Sommer is now looking to her future in community nursing but says she'll never forget the past few months.

She said: ''It was awful and scary. It's just nothing a 21-year-old should be seeing day in day out and it's something that when you go to bed at night you would see and it's just not very nice to think about.

''It definitely made me question if this is the job for me, because I don't think I can deal with this stress everyday.''

A plea for serious action:

Fiona Donald, the Vice-President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, is concerned that mental health problems will manifest further down the line.

She is urging the government to be proactive with their upcoming 'NHS People Plan', which will set a vision for how people working in the NHS can be supported.

She said: ''They have a People Plan which is due to be published fairly soon.

''We'd really like them to get behind that and implement that in the way it should be with teeth and with support, so that this problem of the mental health of staff can be mitigated.''

Help is at hand

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at the mental health charity Mind says they have seen an increase in the numbers of carers and key workers coming forward for support.

She spoke to ITV News Calendar presenter Christine Talbot:

  • NHS staff wishing to seek support can do so by clicking here

  • The NHS mental health support phone line 0300 131 7000 and is open between 7am and 11pm every day, while the text service will be available 24/7 by simply texting FRONTLINE to 85258.

  • More help and support is available through Mind, and the Our Frontline partnership which is a collaboration between Shout, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.