A mental health charity for medical and emergency services staff has warned of a ‘looming’ crisis after a spike in demand for its help during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Laura Hyde Foundation said it has been ‘inundated’ with calls from healthcare staff including nurses since the coronavirus pandemic started.
It had an 88% increase in requests for help that require immediate, acute care compared to last year – up from 40 to 45 acute requests each day from February to April 2019, to 78 to 84 acute requests in the same period this year.
The charity has now launched a nationwide campaign, ‘No Mask for Mental Health’, calling for consistent mental health provision for NHS trust staff across the country. It includes a short film to raise awareness of the impact of the pandemic on mental health for workers.
Jennifer Hawkins, the foundation’s clinical lead, said: ‘The harsh reality of their work is having a significant impact on mental health – and we must make it ok for medical professionals not to suffer in silence; to prescribe for themselves what they would prescribe for others and ask for help.’
Social media filters for both Instagram and Snapchat have been launched for the campaign, placing a virtual mask with an inverted ‘rainbow smile’ over the user’s face.
The charity also stressed that nurses and other healthcare staff are not only experiencing increased rates of stress and anxiety, but also serious mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ms Hawkins continued: ‘Unfortunately, there is no PPE for the mind – and there are NHS and frontline workers whose trusts simply cannot provide adequately for them. Until they do, and the stigma surrounding mental health is removed, we’ll be there.’
Concerns have been growing in recent weeks that healthcare workers’ mental health is being negatively impacted by factors such as a lack of personal protective equipment, deaths of colleagues and patients, and the increased risks to themselves, their friends and their families.