Mental health on the COVID-19 frontline

NHS employees are among the millions of individuals who report worsening mental health caused by the pandemic and resulting lockdowns.

An ongoing study of mental health during the pandemic found after the first wave in March 2020, 62% of adults reported feeling anxious or worried due to COVID-19.

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.

Thank you NHS in window

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.

Studies indicate that healthcare workers have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic in comparison to the general population.

Person in medical gear preparing COVID-19 test

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. 

A separate study conducted on medical workers found 40% of respondents reported currently suffering from a broader range of psychological and emotional conditions due to COVID-19.

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

Man and woman facetiming

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 health and social care workers in Wales

Canopi offers access to mental health support for health and social care workers in Wales.

Canopi is a free, confidential service that is supported by Welsh Government funding and administered through Cardiff University.

Useful mental health resources

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