New programme helps care workers at risk from PTSD

A new mental health treatment programme to provide frontline healthcare workers with fast-track access to PTSD or depression treatment has been developed by Oxford University.

The programme, called SHAPE Recovery builds on an outreach programme shown to reduce rates of PTSD and depression and has been developed by researchers from the university’s Department of Experimental Psychology. 

It is already working with 3,300 frontline healthcare workers across England and has now been invited to work with 8,000 London Ambulance employees and staff from associated partner organisations.

Around the world, frontline healthcare workers, such as intensive care doctors, nurses, support staff and paramedics, are risking their lives daily to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are at an increased risk of developing mental health problems, such as a severe stress reaction called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as depression, sleep problems and anxiety.

Although many hospitals offer well-being initiatives, there is little evidence to support their effectiveness and they require staff to come forward for help.

SHAPE is unique because it moves the burden of outreach for help from frontline staff to well-being coaches.

This means staff don’t have to come forward for help. Instead, they can access 1-to-1 confidential help, independent from their employers, on their phones.

In addition, SHAPE facilitates fast access to gold-standard treatment for PTSD and depression should it be indicated.

‘SHAPE is based on 15 years of research to examine what predicts PTSD and depression in frontline workers,’ said associate professor Jennifer Wild.

‘We used the findings from these studies to create a highly effective support programme to prevent the development of PTSD and depression. SHAPE is the outcome of this work. It is evidence-based, affordable, and with ongoing evaluation could, if needed, be incorporated within NHS services within 12 to 24 months.

‘The aim is to support staff to stay well, to recover if unwell, and to continue to be able to work, providing much-valued patient care.’

Photo Credit – Darksouls1 (Pixabay)

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