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Union calls for specialist mental health support for care staff

Unison has called for guaranteed access to specialist mental health support for NHS and care workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This comes after research published by the Covid Trauma Response Working Group (CTRWG) showed high rates of mental health disorders among health and care workers during the first lockdown.

CTRWG conducted an online survey in the weeks following the initial peak in cases.

A sample of frontline UK health and social care workers completed the survey, including allied healthcare professionals, carers, clinical support staff, nurses and midwives, and other health and social care roles.

The study found that more than 57% of respondents met the threshold for clinically significant PTSD, anxiety or depression, and symptom levels were reasonably high and comparable across occupational groups.

Participants who were more concerned about infecting others, who felt they could not talk with their managers, who reported feeling stigmatised due to their role and who had not had reliable access to personal protective equipment (PPE) were more likely to meet the criteria for a clinically significant mental disorder.

It also found that being redeployed during the pandemic, and having had Covid-19 were associated with a higher likelihood of meeting criteria for PTSD. Higher household income was associated with reduced odds for a mental disorder.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said the government needs to help heal the damage by providing specialist support to those who need it.

‘Covid has inflicted deep mental scars on NHS and care staff. They’ve paid an unimaginable price for caring for the nation throughout this pandemic.

‘High vacancy rates in health and social care have made the situation worse. Staff have been worked to the bone because of unfilled jobs. This threatens the ability of the NHS and social care to look after people properly.

‘The government must now help heal the damage through guaranteed access to specialist support. A decent pay increase is also essential to raise morale and recruitment.’

The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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