Supporting healthcare workers’ mental health

When your work is focused on caring for others, it’s perhaps all the more important that you feel able to speak openly about your own mental health, and seek support when you need it. And, at a time when recruiting and retaining staff is critical for NHS organisations, the need to consider staff wellbeing is all the more obvious.

Staff must feel able, rather than obligated, to stay in work

In a guest blog written for Mental Health at Work, NHS Employers’ Chief Executive Danny Mortimer, is clear: “Staff must feel able, rather than obligated, to stay in work if they are experiencing mental ill health.” In other words, it’s not just about whether people can have time off: it’s about creating the conditions whereby work is a supportive environment where NHS staff can thrive.

NHS Employers: part of the NHS ConfederationSo, we asked the team at NHS Employers NHS Employers NHS Employers works with employers across the NHS in England to reflect their views and act on their behalf. View organisation to share the key principles, tools and resources they’d recommend.

Line managers are a key part of this, as these are the people who staff ought to be able to turn to first. They should be supported so that they have the confidence to have conversations about mental health with their staff.

Beyond that, it’s helpful to think about three simultaneous types of activity that can support staff:

  1. The preventative: raising awareness of mental health in general, creating a culture where it isn’t stigmatised, and having regular check-ins to see how staff are doing;
  2. Targeted interventions when people need them, either provided in-house or by effective signposting, when issues like burnout, stress or resilience are a problem;
  3. A culture of self-care, where mechanisms for staff to look after themselves are shared and encouraged, such as mobile apps, mindfulness techniques and lifestyle changes.

NHS Employers provides a wide range of resources that are freely and easily accessible for NHS organisations to use. The ones it has specifically recommended below, including ones it has produced and from other organisations, should be a really good place to start.

Resources in this toolkit: