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King’s and its health partners are at the epicentre of the UK’s fight against coronavirus, and many of our staff and students are at the frontline tackling difficult situations on a daily basis. At a time when the National Health Service (NHS) is pushed to limits it has rarely seen before, it is crucial that we have the knowledge in place to build support systems that will protect the wellbeing of all health staff, as well as exploring the broader implications COVID-19 and isolation can have on society’s mental health.
A team working across King’s Health Partners is currently investigating how to grow the mental health resilience of our NHS hospital front line staff and community health workers as they save lives in these extraordinary times:
As the NHS fronts the nation’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, our health workers have never been pushed harder. Many NHS staff will have to make difficult choices they have never faced before, deliver care that might not meet the high standard they expect from themselves and justify their decisions to relatives. We know that the psychological distress resulting from these circumstances can lead to mental health difficulties, including depression, PTSD and suicidal thoughts.
King’s College London is a world-leader in mental health research. With your help, we will drive research never undertaken before to understand better the factors that influence the mental health difficulties faced by health workers and move to rapidly improve the support we can offer to help them become more resilient in the face of these extraordinary circumstances and beyond.
‘During the COVID 19 outbreak many healthcare workers will encounter situations where they cannot say to a grieving relative “we did all we could”, but only “ we did the best we could with the staff and resources available, it wasn’t enough”. That is the seed of a moral injury.
‘There is a real and pressing need to acknowledge the mental health challenges that healthcare workers will face over the coming months in order that the right support is made available to them in a timely fashion’.
Professor Neil Greenberg, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London