News

Time for a new look at mental and emotional health?

The World Health Organization has designated Monday 10th October 2022 as World Mental Health Day, with a call for accessible, affordable and high-quality mental health services at a time when poor mental health undermines the potential of millions worldwide.

In the healthcare sector especially, the COVID-19 pandemic, staff shortages and the financial environment have only brought to crisis point mental health issues that were already problematic in the workplace. Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, but also financial stress, menopause, and bereavement, have all taken their toll.

Mental health conditions are consistently the highest reason for sickness absence in the NHS. In 2020, up to 34% of all sickness absence included anxiety, depression, stress and other mental health illnesses. It is estimated that poor mental health, whether through absence or feeling too ill to perform duties, costs the NHS over £3bn a year. Despite this, 46% of staff continue to work even though feeling unwell*.

And yet, only 39% of organisations have policies in place to manage common mental health conditions, and only 24% of managers have received any training on mental health at work. This is despite the fact that relatively low-cost changes can have an enormous impact on staff well-being, such as access to a staff psychologist, advertising mental health support, or training people to recognise the early signs of stress.

At HWF, we recognise that mental health is created by a whole framework of support and interventions. Simple factors such as access to the right PPE, hot food and drink, comfy chairs in a rest room and a chance to take a nap, better rota planning make a huge difference. They all create emotional resilience to face the day.

In 2021, HWF conducted a survey of over 1,200 staff, in which it was reported that only 33% of staff had a rest room at all.

That’s why we work to create or refurbish staff rooms to allow staff to decompress between shifts. Staff rooms also allow people to share their troubles, to connect with understanding colleagues, and maybe even to ask for help at the right time.

The same survey found that only 52% of staff felt they had access to psychological support, and 2 out of 3 staff felt that the organisation did not do enough for their wellbeing.

HWF also provides access to free counselling services from fully qualified therapists for anyone in the healthcare profession who is feeling anxious, stressed or depressed, and who is unable to work to their full potential. You can email support@healthcareworkersfoundation.org for more information.

*NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework