29% WHSCT staff report Covid PTSD with Trust psychology service supporting affected workers

A new survey of Western Trust staff has revealed that almost a third have reported depression, anxiety, PTSD and insomnia during COVID-19.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 2:41 pm

The study was carried out amid the second surge in November with 3,834 staff across the north taking part, including over 200 from the Trust.

The results are stark and reveal the severe pressure front line workers have been labouring under during this pandemic.

It found that 29 per cent of Trust staff had moderate to severe self-reported depression; 24 per cent had moderate to severe self-reported anxiety; 29 per cent had moderate to severe self-reported Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); and 25 per cent had moderate to severe self-reported insomnia.

Ann McConnell, Director of Human Resources for the Western Trust said: “We are committed to promoting and supporting the health and wellbeing of our staff. We welcome the publication of the report which includes input from Western Trust Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Thomas McCarthy, so that our future developments can be informed by research.

“Over the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic Western Trust staff have demonstrated their commitment and dedication to provide services to all who require them.

“From the outset we have been aware of the potential impact of the pandemic on all aspects of staff well-being; from the impact of sustained, intensive direct patient care and supporting patients, clients and carers in the community in new ways to changes required to working patterns for staff and the impact on their home lives.

In order to safeguard health care workers during the most challenging time the Trust has ever experienced Ms. McConnell said it has established a number of initiatives to provide additional supports.

These include a Psychological Support Helpline for set up by the Psychology Service which is offering individual and team support sessions.

“Other initiatives have included the development of self-help guides, online stress management and mental health well-being sessions. The Trust Recovery College has offered access to its online classes to all Trust staff and other supports have been made available to staff via regional (PHA website) and local health and well-being websites, e.g. TWISTWEST; a Trust-managed staff support site.

“Such initiatives have been designed to ensure that a range of supports are available throughout this extremely challenging time and can be accessed either in work or when at home.

“It is of the upmost importance that staff continue to manage their own well-being and support each other, so that the best care possible can be provided for those availing of our services,” said Ms. McConnell.

She said the report highlights the ‘psychological challenge’ the pandemic has presented for staff. “This study is the first to specifically focus on NI Health Service staff experience and has been carried out in collaboration with all five health care Trusts.

“The outcomes demonstrate the level of need and psychological challenge faced by staff as we progress through this pandemic. It provides firm evidence on which to further develop staff focused support initiatives, assisting staff to manage challenges that have already been faced and those that are currently being managed, but also highlights the psychological needs that will require attention when the pandemic is brought under control,” said the HR boss.

Contact the Staff Psychological Support Line on 028 7161 6112 (option 2). Or email: [email protected] (link sends e-mail). The Support Line will continue to run 9am-5pm Monday– Friday.