Prince warns of negative effect of ‘hero tag’ on NHS staff mental healthIvy Madziva
Prince warns of negative effect of ‘hero tag’ on NHS staff mental health.
The Duke of Cambridge has expressed worries that giving frontline NHS workers labels like “hero” could be preventing them from seeking mental health support, in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
In a video clip shared on the BBC’s The One Show, he noted that the unprecedented pandemic was making people “anxious and uncertain”.
“I am still concerned about what I’m hearing from the front line, which is that staff still find it very difficult to talk about their mental health”
Duke of Cambridge
The duke has held video calls with various hospital staff, social care workers and other professionals on the front line during the UK outbreak.
He said: “I am still concerned about what I’m hearing from the front line, which is that service staff still find it very difficult in our NHS to talk about their mental health, to be open about it, for a lot of reasons.
“We’ve made the NHS frontline staff, rightly, heroes. But in doing so, we once again give them the burden that we gave our soldiers fighting in the war.”
While he agreed that NHS workers should be hailed for being brave on the face of Covid-19, he said he was very conscious of the implications of these labels and it was important that they do not feel alienated because of them.
He said: “Where they feel that once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that and, therefore, they can’t ask for support, they have to be this strong pillar of strength when in actual fact, what we need them to be is examples of positive mental health.”
We need them “doing the job, beating this pandemic, helping and caring for so many people but also looking after themselves so that they come through this in one piece” and that we are not left with “broken NHS staff all over the country”, he said.
The duke made his comments last Thursday, the evening of the 10th and final weekly Clap For Our Carers.
Nursing Times has launched a campaign called Covid-19: Are You Ok? to highlight the mental health needs of nurses on the frontline and to lobby for immediate and long-lasting support.
A recent survey to inform the campaign by Nursing Times found that 33% of respondents rated their overall mental health and wellbeing as “bad” or “very bad”.
The majority (87%) rated themselves as either “a lot” or “a little” more stressed at work than usual, while 90% said they were “a lot” or “a little” more anxious than before the outbreak.
Meanwhile, the Laura Hyde Foundation, a charity dedicated to the mental wellbeing of health workers, said it has experienced an 88% increase in calls to its helpline since the outbreak began.
Some callers have reported increased stress and anxiety, while others have presented with more serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The foundation is calling on the government to ensure that all NHS trusts can deliver acute mental health care for their staff at the point of need.
It has also provided more clinical support for health and care staff and recently launched an initiative called No Mask for Mental Health.
Liam Barnes, chair of the foundation, said: “Doctors, nurses and healthcare support staff are working around the clock and beyond normal shift patterns to treat the critically ill, at an unknown cost to their physical health and mental health.
“This new service aims to address those problems at a time when the mental wellbeing of tens of thousands of people are at risk. I strongly urge anyone who needs help to use the service now.”
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