Leading mental health organisations have said the mental and physical health of frontline staff should be a national priority going forward, and have stressed that the efforts many employers have given to supporting wellbeing has not been a ‘universal experience’.
An open letter to people working in health, care and education – signed by 19 mental health organisations including Mind, Samaritans and the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network – commended frontline workers for responding to the pandemic with extraordinary determination, creativity and care, but noted the situation had placed significant pressure on their mental and physical wellbeing.
“We are grateful for your courage, resilience and humanity in the face of ever-changing circumstances and relentlessly difficult choices. We also acknowledge the pressures on your mental and physical wellbeing. Supporting you must be a national priority over the coming months,” the letter said.
“We have been heartened that leaders of organisations have prioritised your wellbeing and mental health, but this has not been a universal experience.”
A King’s College London study recently found that 39.5% of NHS staff in intensive care units reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder following the first wave of Covid-19.
The letter said that although the Covid-19 vaccines provided hope, there would continue to be difficult times ahead.
“This is a heartfelt message of recognition and solidarity with you and your families. It is important to take the wellbeing of keyworkers seriously both now and for a long time to come. We will work tirelessly to ensure your mental health is at the heart of the recovery,” it said.
The letter noted additional support for frontline workers was available through Our Frontline, a bank of resources and a support service provided by Shout 85258 – a free, confidential 24/7 text messaging service.