Long-term programme of access to specialists, online therapy and group counselling sessions
All of the NHS’s 1.4 million staff will be offered free mental health support from Friday to help them cope with the “shell shock” of tackling Covid-19.
NHS staff will be given free access to a programme of more than 1,500 specialists, online therapy and group counselling sessions. They will also receive practical and financial assistance as well as specialist bereavement, psychological support and help with sleep problems.
“I don’t want to use war language, but when the crisis hits, we are likely to see NHS staff suffering symptoms similar to shell shock,” said Lucy Warner, chief executive of NHS Practitioner Health, which has set up the mental health side of the wellbeing programme.
Warner said this was a long-term programme. “Staff might not need this most badly in the immediate term, when the crisis hits because they’ll be so busy. But three to six months down the line … staff are likely to suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.”
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 have developed a range of support for all NHS staff, from one-to-one mental health support to a sympathetic voice to confide in.”
Volunteers staffing the phone and text lines have come from charities including Hospice UK, the Samaritans and Shout.