Nurses will be offered classes in stress management, mindfulness, and sleep counseling, as part of a £600 million NHS England plan to improve employee health.
This comes after the 2015 NHS staff survey revealed that 37% of staff have felt unwell as a result of work-related stress in the past 12 months, and 9% of nursing jobs are vacant.
From April, employers will be funded to improve the support they offer their staff to stay healthy.
This includes mental health initiatives, such as: stress management courses, line management training, mindfulness courses, counselling services (including sleep counselling) and mental health first aid training.
Other options could include faster access to physiotherapy services for staff suffering with musculoskeletal (MSK) issues, and more physical activities schemes like: team sports, running clubs, team challenges and fitness classes.
In response, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Too often in the past, the NHS has failed to take care of its staff in the same excellent way it takes care of patients.
“This initiative must be accompanied by improved access to flexible working and a concerted effort to reduce the stress experienced when staff cannot properly care for patients because of insufficient staffing levels,” she urged.
Around £1 in every £40 of the total NHS budget is spent on staff absence due to poor health, according to estimates from Public Health England.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “As the largest employer in Europe, the NHS needs to practice what it preaches by offering better support for the health and wellbeing of our own 1.3 million staff…
“If we can do this well, we hope that more parts of the public and private sector will see the sense of it and also take the plunge,” he explained.