Psychologist Dr. Thomas McCarthy says study on COVID-19 impact will inform staff support measures

Western Trust Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Thomas McCarthy says he hopes an ongoing study of the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health workers will help employers explore the usefulness of support initiatives.
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Earlier this week the 'Journal' reported how almost a third of 200 Western Trust staff who took part in the first phase of a region-wide COVID-19 Wellbeing Survey self-reported experiences of depression, anxiety, PTSD and insomnia during COVID-19.

The study is being led by Dr. Ciaran Shannon at the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Impact Research Centre.

Dr. McCarthy is the project lead in the Western Trust area.

The study is looking at the mental wellbeing of staff during COVID-19.The study is looking at the mental wellbeing of staff during COVID-19.
The study is looking at the mental wellbeing of staff during COVID-19.
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He explained: "Over the past number of months I've been assisting, along with other colleagues in some aspects of staff support. I want to highlight a study that's been created in collaboration with all five health care trusts and led by the Impact Research Centre entitled the COVID-19 staff wellbeing survey.

"It seeks to explore the psychological experiences of staff during the current pandemic. It is a longitudinal study and will hopefully follow staff across approximately a one year period.

"The first phase of the study has been completed and the results provide us for the first time with an understanding of some of the psychological experiences of Northern Ireland health care staff during the COVID-19 pandemic."

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During the first phase 3,834 staff, including over 200 from this area, were canvassed during the second wave of the pandemic in the autumn.

The researchers 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.

Dr. McCarthy said the study would help inform staff support measures in future.

"It will hopefully allow us to explore the usefulness of staff support initiatives and guide the health service in understanding the psychological needs of staff post COVID-19," he said.

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