35% of WHSCT staff report COVID PTSD - a rise between second and third waves with depression, anxiety and insomnia also up

Depression, anxiety, PTSD and insomnia worsened significantly among Western Trust staff during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Kevin Mullan
Friday, 14th May 2021, 5:26 pm

A study, led by Dr. Ciaran Shannon at the Impact Research Centre and with input from Western Trust Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Thomas McCarthy, surveyed thousands of staff across the north following the third peak after Christmas.

Hundreds of workers in the Western Trust took part in February. They indicated that the stress of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic had worsened since the autumn.

The study found 38% of WHSCT staff had moderate to severe self-reported depression (up from 29% in November); 28% had moderate to severe self-reported anxiety (up from 24% in November); 35% had moderate to severe self-reported Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (up from 29% in November) ; and 27% had moderate to severe self-reported insomnia (up from 25% last November).

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The authors of the study report the rise in self-reported mental distress among staff in the Trust was reflected across they board. They state: “The survey included four validated psychological wellbeing measures (depression, anxiety, Post–Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and insomnia).

“High levels of distress within the workforce were found (depression 36%; anxiety 27%; PTSD 32%; Insomnia 28%) [figures for the whole of the north] at Time 2 [February 2021] indicating that the high level of need for staff supports identified at Time 1 [November 2020] persisted three months later. A small increase in the proportion of staff with moderate/severe depression was seen at Time 2.

“On the eight indices adopted from Pre-COVID-19 staff survey, seven showed stable results between Times 1 & 2; however, the proportion of staff who look forward to coming to work has continued to fall (Time 1 = 51%; Time 2 = 48%) corresponding with the increase in rates of moderate to severe depression.”

Staff are once again being invited to take part in what is a longitudinal research study.

Health workers can submit their views at https://surveymechanics.com/s/COVID19_Time3 until May 23.

The researchers state: “There are continued high levels of distress within the staff group and recovery may be prolonged in this respect. We recommend the continued working of the regional staff support group. The fact that there has been no ‘vaccine bounce’ in terms of mental health and wellbeing is important. The majority of our sample had at least one dose of the vaccine but this did not impact on mental health and wellbeing measures.

“Organisations can’t rely on vaccination as a wellbeing strategy – multiple innovative approaches are needed.”