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With NHS staff under huge pressure, services offering emotional support are vital

Updated: Mar 21




A King’s College study has found many hospital staff treating the sickest patients during the first wave of the pandemic were left traumatised by the experience.


Symptoms of severe anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were some of the key issues cited by the 709 workers interviewed, with nurses the most likely to report feelings of distress.


With the UK now in the midst of what Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, described as “the worst weeks of the pandemic”, NHS staff members are said to be under even more pressure than during the first wave.


As they go above and beyond to provide patients with the best possible care, it’s vital they get support to look after their own mental health, wellbeing and relationships.


Help for NHS staff members


To ensure this happens, the NHS has invested £15m in support, including 38 local mental health and well-being hubs and a service for staff with complex mental health needs, such as trauma and addiction.


We’re pleased to say that in addition to this, NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) have funded a new Relate service which is available to staff delivering NHS services in London and the Midlands.


Via relatehubNHS, staff can access free 30 minute WebChats or phone calls with a Relationship and Wellbeing Advisor to offload and talk about whatever is on their mind.


The issues they're facing


The issues those delivering NHS services are coming to us about are varied. They include anxiety, depression, workplace stress, loneliness, balancing work and home commitments and relationship issues.


We want to encourage staff members in London and the Midlands who are finding things difficult to make use of this service and get support early on, when they notice they are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or experiencing issues at home.


Our Relationship and Wellbeing Advisors provide a confidential and non-judgmental listening ear as well as offering advice and signposting to other services that can help.

Helen is one of our Relationships and Wellbeing Advisors. She said:


“I’m hearing from staff members who have less time to focus on their family due to work pressure. In some cases they are living away from home to protect loved ones from the virus which is leading to feelings of guilt and isolation. Others are arguing more with their partners and experiencing relationship issues as a result of being overly tired. Since the latest lockdown came into effect there has understandably also been lots of anxiety around parenting teenagers and home schooling.”


“I feel so privileged to be working on this brilliant service. NHS workers are doing such a wonderful job but it’s an incredibly stressful time for them. They are used to being the nation’s care givers and can often experience a lot of guilt and reluctance around seeking support but it’s so important to have somebody to offload to.”


What they're saying about relatehubNHS


Feedback from NHS staff members who have accessed the service has been overwhelmingly positive. Here are some examples:


“My advisor was a very empathetic counsellor who made me feel comfortable straight away. She was very understanding and gave me time to speak about how I feel. This is a brilliant service and I would highly recommend it to my colleagues...”


“I am so glad I decided to contact relate, thank you, excellent job, I felt respected, understood and cared for”


It’s fantastic that we are able to offer this free service for both clinical and non-clinical staff members delivering NHS services in London and the Midlands whether based in hospitals, GP practices, ambulance trusts, mental health trusts or in the community.


Spread the word


We would love to get people’s help in spreading the word about relatehubNHS to NHS teams in London and the Midlands so if you know anyone who could benefit please do point them in our direction.


To access relatehubNHS or to find out more please visit: relate.org.uk/relatehub-nhs

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