The key reasons given for these feelings of anxiety were: becoming ill, being separated from friends and family, and uncertainty about the future and finances.
Mental crisis hotlines operated by the NHS received over three million calls during the pandemic.
Although the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of the entire UK population have been serious, health care workers have faced heightened levels of distress caused by the pandemic.
Mental health of NHS employees
Mental health awareness among the general population has improved. Despite this, it remains a taboo subject among the medical profession.
Many health care workers have been exposed to high levels of psychological trauma and are therefore at increased risk of negative mental health outcomes.
Previous research has found doctors and medical students are hesitant to disclose a mental health condition and are reluctant to seek help for fear of judgment or professional repercussions.
One study shows up to a third of NHS employees report higher levels of distress due to the pandemic. 50% of staff felt their mental health had declined during the first two months of COVID-19 and 45% of doctors surveyed reported experiencing depression, anxiety, or stress relating to or made worse by the pandemic.
When being compared to the general population, key workers during the pandemic reported significantly higher levels of PTSD, insomniem depression and anxiety symptoms.
Key factors impacting NHS staff wellbeing
- Significant changes in work patterns
- Being assigned to new roles
- Risk of exposure to infection and isolation from loved ones
- Adapting to providing medical care digitally – in a survey of 2,000 medical staff, half declared their biggest challenge has been the delivery of care using digital platforms
- Although NHS employees are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, staff in the UK report inadequate personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing for healthcare staff.
Understanding who is most at risk
NHS frontline workers who are directly involved in the treatment and diagnosis of COVID-19 were found to be more vulnerable to the negative physical and mental health effects of the pandemic.
Among these are nurses and paramedics. 52% of nurses report being concerned about their mental health due to increased workplace stress during the pandemic.
Additionally, studies have found minorities, young people, full-time students, people who are unemployed, single parents, those with long-term disabilities, and those with pre-existing mental health problems to be at high risk for struggling to cope with the pandemic.
We’re here for NHS workers in Wales
Health for Health Professionals Wales (HHP Wales) offers access to mental health support for all NHS Wales employees, students and volunteers.
HHP Wales is a free, confidential service that is supported by Welsh Government funding and administered through Cardiff University.
Useful mental health resources
- HHP Wales referral form
- HHP Wales self-help resources
- NCMH mental health leaflets
- GOV.Wales Mental Health Sevices
- NHS Practitioner Health
- MQ: Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic
- Cardiff University: New survey reveals toll of COVID-19 on mental health in Wales
- Mental Health Foundation: How to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
- Mental Health Foundation: Getting through COVID Tips from a key worker
- The Health Foundation: Surviving COVID: The impact of the pandemic on the mental health of NHS workers
- Mental Health Foundation: The pandemic one year on