The impact of COVID-19 on the psychosocial and mental health needs of NHS and social care staff. The final report on literature published to mid-2021.

Ntontis, Evangelos; Luzynska, Katarzyna and Williams, Richard (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on the psychosocial and mental health needs of NHS and social care staff. The final report on literature published to mid-2021. The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.22895.76962

Abstract

Our aim in writing this report was to present an overview of findings from higher quality studies in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the psychosocial and mental health needs of NHS and social care staff. After screening the papers provided by the HEE Knowledge Management Team, the Review Team selected papers of higher quality. They tend to be the more robust empirical studies and literature reviews and meta-analyses. This report contains a description of the studies and highlights their importance. As becomes evident from the Review Team selecting these few higher-quality papers from a much larger batch and its synthesis of findings, we conclude that healthcare workers are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic as particularly challenging. This observation is evident and consistent both in statistical terms through analysis of quantitative data as well as experientially as captured by qualitative studies that have explored the lived experiences of healthcare staff. The team concludes that staff have and are experiencing high levels of distress that is consistently associated with both exposure to infectious disease as well as due to systemic problems that arise from secondary stressors including factors such as organisational inequality, staff shortages, social stigma, lack of communication, lack of practical and emotional social support, feeling ignored, lack of PPE, and inability to carry out one’s tasks properly. Support mechanisms and potential points of intervention include, among others, ensuring: there is clear communication; the presence of social support and bereavement support; provision of adequate and effective protective equipment; enabling staff to feel understood and valued; there is appropriate leadership; steps are taken to tackle chronic understaffing issues; and provision of opportunities for staff to relax.

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