Stress tends to come hand-in-hand with high pressured jobs, and the NHS is no exception. Long hours, varying shift patterns, constant pressure to perform at your best – it can really take its toll. However, right now the NHS is under a mass amount of pressure due to COVID. The NHS workers are feeling it the most, with more demand, longer hours than normal, working in full PPE, it is all mounting up to more and more stress.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have spoken out and said they will invest an extra £15 million to improve their mental health support for nurses, paramedics, therapists, pharmacists, and support staff.
Staff referred by themselves or colleagues will be rapidly assessed and treated by local expert mental health specialists. Those with the most severe needs will be referred to a specialist centre of excellence.
We want to help support you and give you some advice on coping throughout this pandemic as you continue to save lives throughout it. NHS England and NHS Improvement have created a hun to offer support to all NHS staff on the NHS People website The website includes; a support service including confidential support via phone and text message, specialist bereavement support, free access to mental health and wellbeing apps, guidance for key workers on how to have difficult conversations with their children and much more.
Ways to reduce stress during COVID
- Limit your time on social media especially reading about COVID, if you find it is affecting your anxiety
- Get enough sleep. It may sound simple but can you think back to when you last had a decent good nights sleep? Recommended time for sleep is 8 hours so try your best to get those hours in, it will surprise you how much good it does for you. If you are struggling to switch off at night, try keeping a notepad next to your bed and write down all your thoughts as this can help clear your head and keep all your thoughts safe.
- Keep in touch with family and friends by phone, email or video calls. Check on each other.
You can also browse NHS wellbeing apps, the majority of which are free and available to everyone. Some of our favourites are:
- Catch It- Helps to channel negative thoughts and manage emotions in a more positive way.
- Sleepio- It has been clinically proven to help you fall asleep faster.
- Exi- 12-week exercise plan based on health information entered by the user.
Read more about the online help and support that is available to give you the support and help, should you need it.
A Nurse’s Experience
We interviewed a nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, about her experiences of stress in the NHS.
Q: Is stress an issue among NHS workers?
A: Yes, stress among NHS workers is a real issue. Everyone deals with it in a different way. You’re thrown into the deep end from day one with little support and you just have to do your best. Some people struggle, some can deal with it better than others.
Q: What are the main stress factors in the NHS?
A: Tiredness, lack of staff and lack of communication are three main factors. Everyone knows there’s a staff shortage and that’s just the way it is. But you’re just expected to deal with it
and take on extra shifts. You end up working long, unsocial hours, without breaks. Sometimes, after three night shifts in a row you’re expected to work a day shift the following day. It’s difficult readjusting your sleeping patterns after working night shifts and it’s incredible that you can be expected to do your job to the best of your ability if you’re over-tired. Patient safety then becomes a serious problem.
Tiredness also creates personal issues at home. Having to juggle family life and look after your kids becomes difficult when you’re exhausted.
A lack of support from colleagues and management can also affect your well-being at work. Bullying in the workplace shouldn’t happen, especially in an environment where you’re caring for others, but it does. Sometimes you can feel very alone at work and under-appreciated. It’s very rare to get a thank you or a well done in the NHS.
Q: Do you feel that you could be supported better?
A: I definitely think there is more support needed from management. Setting up a buddy system could help people. Having someone to talk to confidentially would give them an opportunity to discuss any issues like bullying and get it off their chest. An occupational health service could be put in place so people could go to them for advice as well. More praise from management would be great just to give you a little boost now and then. An acknowledgement of hard work, a little encouragement goes a long way.
It’s not all down to management though. There are plenty of things that we can all do that could help to relieve some stress at work. Staff coming together to support others and working as a team, like it should be would help. Communicating better with management and highlighting issues could prevent things from happening. If you don’t speak up, it won’t improve.
If you find yourself feeling added pressure, you may begin to feel overwhelmed and anxious, we’ve looked into ho you can manage anxiety under pressure with some helpful tips and advice to ease the pressure.
Looking for some extra support? We’re here to help where we can, why not check out or NHS support page with even more offers, as well as advice and features from some of our latest blogs.
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