Mental Health Care And Its Importance Right Now
Mental health has been a controversial topic for many years; however, the advance of research has helped bring about less stigma for those suffering from more support. In the U.K alone, 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health issue each year, and this year the figures have been even higher due to the stress and restrictions on everyday life due to COVID-19.
Many employees have had to work from home alone, while others have faced redundancy, which has undeniably affected mental health. With this said, healthcare staff who have worked throughout the pandemic have also faced severe mental health issues.
With the increased amount of pressure experienced by nurses, GPs, and carers, to name just a few, it’s more important than ever to focus on such professionals’ mental health and how we can prevent staff shortages in the long-term.
Data has revealed that nurses took more than 500,000 days of sick leave in May 2020 due to mental health, resulting in chronic staff shortages. Furthermore, nurses have been continuing to resign at alarming rates.
The Pressure on Healthcare Staff In The NHS
Over the months that have seen the coronavirus pandemic reach its peak, nurses and other healthcare staff have delivered valuable work to patients. The nation has come together to praise the NHS with a ‘clap for our carers’ social movement, which involved weekly applause for workers.
The uplifting gesture alongside discounts for NHS staff across many stores and eateries has, without a doubt, helped those in such roles. At the end of 12-hour-long shifts, many nurses and healthcare staff are left wholly exhausted both physically and mentally.
Sadly, plenty of healthcare professionals cannot find the time to check in with themselves and suffer from significant anxiety, stress, and depression. This has led to increased levels of absenteeism across the healthcare sector and a shortage of NHS staff.
As a result, there is also an increased pressure on mental health services in the NHS as more and more people are signing up for help. While we are lucky in this country to have accessible mental health services for anybody who needs it, the waiting lists for such treatment consequently increases.
For non-NHS staff, the average waiting time for mental health services is around six weeks, though the pandemic has doubled this figure.
Nurses’ Mental Health
Working in healthcare can be both rewarding and exhausting at the same time. It’s already a well-known fact that nurses have been resigning from their NHS roles at alarming rates. Sadly, there is an additional risk of more nurses quitting due to the COVID-19 crisis and a lack of mental health support.
Put simply, nurses’ mental health and safety must be placed as a top priority to avoid further resignations. Right now, not enough is being done to protect those in such roles from developing mental health issues caused by overexertion, which puts more pressure on occupational health services.
The level of stress experienced by nurses is amongst the highest when looking at professional roles. Without the appropriate action in place, this could lead to a vast surge of resignations once the pandemic settles.
Increased Recruitment Efforts
Austin Dean Recruitment has set a goal of bringing about stable NHS vacancy rates with a focus on nursing roles. With predictions made to successfully recruit 200 nurses for the NHS by March 2022 and a further 300 by the end of 2023.
We are partnering internationally to help recruit nurses from across the globe for roles in the NHS. As the healthcare system in the U.k continues to be at risk of further resignations, our efforts are increasing.
However, in the meantime, it’s essential to look at what can be done for nurses and healthcare workers who are facing unprecedented stress due to coronavirus.
Advice From Mind
The government is increasing its efforts to tackle major issues such as the lack of PPE that has been available to nurses and healthcare staff throughout the pandemic. It’s also essential to look at how healthcare workers can avoid burnout in their roles mentally.
Because many healthcare workers’ roles are focused on others’ care, their health and well-being can be negatively impacted. Here are some tips that have been put together by the Mind for key NHS workers, with a focus on nurses:
- Take time for yourself before a shift – practice deep breathing to slow your heart rate if you feel anxious, challenge any negative assumptions or thoughts, and make a pledge to leave worries behind for the day until later.
- Take all of your breaks – in an environment of increased pressure, it can be easy not to take breaks and work instead. Taking breaks is vital for rest and allow you to check in on basic needs such as hydration.
- Focus on how you’re feeling – be sure to regularly check-in with yourself to reflect on how you are feeling. This will allow you to identify the emotion and deal with it where you can in the best possible way.
- Talk with colleagues – having an open and honest discussion about how you’re feeling with others can help. There are many ways to create a support system in the workplace with colleagues if you’re a healthcare worker.
- Look after your body when on shifts – though the main priority is patients’ health, you should still make sure you are caring for yourself. Have proper meals where you can and prepare beforehand if doable. If you have a more extended break, catch up on sleep where possible too.
- Create a work/life balance – be sure to do something that you enjoy each day if you can. Even a simple walk with the dog in a natural setting is a simple enough activity to help take your focus away from work.
Accessing Occupational Health Services
One of the most significant advantages of working for the NHS is the range of occupational health services available. If you’re an NHS staff member, there is a range of services for mental health support that will be available to you.
The NHS has extended mental health services available to staff as of October 2020. An extra £15 million is expected to be invested into services available to nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, GPs, and support staff.
Those that choose to refer themselves will be assessed at a far quicker rate and are guaranteed treatment from expert specialists. NHS National Mental Health Director, Claire Murdoch, stated, “It is crucial that the NHS staff working tirelessly to protect the health of the nation throughout this pandemic are given the support they deserve, which is why we are announcing this expansion of services.”
If you’re a nurse or healthcare worker suffering from poor mental health, you can find out more information about the support available over on the NHS website.
Are you hoping to start a career in healthcare? At Austin Dean Recruitment, we have a range of vacancies to discuss with you. Contact us today to begin your life-changing career in healthcare at 020 3489 6070.