Healthcare professionals caring for patients affected by the COVID-19 outbreak have never had more demands placed on them, and these demands have never been greater.
The pandemic has presented one of the greatest public health challenges our country, and indeed the world, has faced in living memory. It is really important for us all to recognise the impact both the virus and the changes we have been asked to make to control it may present for our wellbeing.
MDDUS is encouraging all of its members to reflect on the steps they are taking to balance the demands placed on them through the COVID-19 outbreak with their own wellbeing.
Here are our top tips for looking after your emotional health during the COVID-19 outbreak:
Wellbeing during COVID-19 outbreak – MDDUS’ top tips for healthcare professionals
- Make time to talk: It is important for colleagues to speak to each other about any difficulties they are having at work. If in-person communication isn’t possible, consider making use of the range of videoconferencing facilities which are available to speak with colleagues on a virtual basis.
- Connect: Try to make time for your family and friends, and for you to feel supported by them. Take time to speak with your colleagues, not just your patients. With social distancing measures put in place, we are likely to have an increased dependency on technology for keeping in touch with one another, such as through email and videoconferencing facilities, but this should not discourage you from continuing to establish and enhance relationships with peers and colleagues. Building connections in this way will support and enrich you every day.
- Take notice: By reflecting on your experiences, you will appreciate what matters to you. Be aware of the world around you, and notice how you are feeling.
- Keep learning: We are all likely to have extra time at home through the measures put in place to control the COVID-19 outbreak. A good way to spend this time to the benefit of your own wellbeing is to keep learning, perhaps by continuing to invest in your favourite hobby, or even by taking up a new skill! You could even use this time to view MDDUS’ on-demand webinar which looks at how you can take care of your personal wellbeing outside of work, available here.
- Be active: Although we should only be leaving our homes once per day for exercise, this can be a good way to look after your wellbeing. Going for a walk, run or cycle, either on your own or with the members of your household can be very beneficial to your emotional health.
- Consult NHS Employers’ How are you feeling today NHS toolkit. It aims to boost staff wellbeing by encouraging conversation about emotional wellbeing in the workplace. Even if it’s not possible for colleagues to speak to one another in person at the moment, it can be good to check in on a virtual basis, to share challenges, frustrations, and even successes during the outbreak.
- Take time for yourself: It’s important (although not always easy) to have a good work-life balance and enjoy home life. With a large number of people across the country working from home during the virus outbreak, it can be even more difficult to separate our work and our home lives, with the temptation to continue working long outside of our regular working patterns. Take time outside of your working hours to do the things you enjoy, such as reading a favourite book, a meal with the members of your household, or exercise.
- Contact local support in your area (see links below) for additional advice and support.
Where to go for support
BMA Wellbeing Support Services
BMA Wellbeing Support Services has a counselling service staffed by professional telephone counsellors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Counsellors are all members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and are bound by strict codes of confidentiality and ethical practice. There is also a peer support service giving doctors and medical students in distress or difficulty the choice of speaking in confidence to another doctor who has experience of supporting colleagues.
Call: 0330 123 1245
The Royal Medical Benevolent Fund provides financial support, money advice and information when it is most needed, due to age, ill health, disability and bereavement.
Call 020 8540 9194
Sick Doctors Trust
Provides support and help for doctors, dentists and medical students who are concerned about their use of drugs or alcohol.
Call: 0370 444 5163. This is a confidential helpline which is available 24 hours a day
A telephone helpline service manned by dedicated dentist volunteers who have received training in listening to colleagues who require emotional support.
Freephone 0333 987 5158, 24 hours a day
Freephone 0300 030 3300 (8am – 8pm Monday to Friday & 7.30am to 2.30pm on Saturdays)
Provides dental professionals with free support and advice on a range of issues affecting mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Call: 0207 224 4671
A mutual / self-help group of doctors and dentists, from all levels within these professions, who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs and who are living, or who wish to live, in a recovery programme free of alcohol and drugs.
Call: 07792 819 966
A charity which supports all dental students, dentists and their families in financial need.
Call: 020 7486 4994 (9.30-5.30 weekdays)
Mind: Coronavirus and Your Wellbeing
Mind’s Coronavirus and Your Wellbeing page contains practical advice for staying at home and looking after your mental health, as well as a range of related guidance. Visit their site here.
Specific Covid-19 outbreak support
A comprehensive package of support to look after the health and wellbeing of NHS staff during the COVID-19 outbreak has been launched by NHS England and NHS Improvement. The range of free psychological and practical support includes:
• A free wellbeing support helpline 0300 131 7000, operated by the Samaritans and available from 7.00am – 11.00pm seven days a week, providing confidential listening from trained professionals and specialist advice - including coaching, bereavement care, mental health and financial help. NHS staff can call for support, signposting and confidential listening.
• A 24/7 text alternative to the above helpline - NHS staff can simply text FRONTLINE to 85258.
• Online peer-to-peer, team and personal resilience support through digital mental health platform SilverCloud and a range of health and wellbeing apps, including Unmind, Headspace, Sleepio and Daylight.
The NHS GP Health Service
The national confidential NHS service for GPs and GP trainees in England. The GP Health Service can help doctors with issues relating to a mental health concern, including stress or depression, or an addiction problem, in particular where these might affect.
Call: 0300 0303 300
This service is available 8am – 8pm from Monday to Friday and from 8am – 2pm on Saturdays.
Health for Health Professionals
A face-to-face counselling service for all doctors in Wales.
Call: 0800 058 2738. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Website: Visit www.hpwales.co.uk for more information and out-of-hours support.
Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH): Coronavirus Mental Health Information Hub
SAMH have collated information in its online Mental Health Information Hub, with information on looking after our mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak, blogs and other information on how we can protect our wellbeing. Visit their hub here.