Advice for healthcare professionals

Updated on 10 July 2020

Every day, doctors, nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, cleaners, porters and thousands of other healthcare professionals across the UK are working tirelessly on the frontline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. At this time, it is more vital than ever that you look after yourself, allow yourself to recognise the emotional challenges of your work and ask for support when you need it.

This video, created by doctors, psychologists and researchers at the NHS Traumatic Stress Clinic in London, the UCL Institute of Mental Health and the COVID Trauma Response Working Group, examines some of the main concerns you might have.


The NHS is providing a free, confidential staff support line for its staff.

Call 0300 131 7000 (7am - 11pm, seven days a week) or text FRONTLINE to 85258 for 24/7 support via text message.


A series of NHS-led webinars focused on supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of health and care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has also been developed. Visit the Thrive LDN website to access the Keeping Well for Health and Care Workers webinars.

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10 ways to protect your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

  1. Stay connected to your colleagues, family, friends and other members of your support network and talk openly about how you’re feeling – call them, text them or have a video chat if you can’t see them in person. You can also contact the NHS staff support line.
  2. Make sure you receive an effective safety induction, especially if you have been deployed to a new department, you’re newly-qualified or you’re returning to work to help fight COVID-19.
  3. Raise any concerns you have with your line manager so they can support you.
  4. Try to stick to your normal daily routine but recognise when you need to adapt.
  5. Take time to wind down after work and try to get enough sleep – as an NHS employee, you currently get free access to Headspace and other wellbeing apps.
  6. Avoid information overload – you might find it useful to limit how many times a day you check the news and social media.
  7. Take care of yourself – try to eat healthily, stay hydrated, take breaks at work whenever you can, get some fresh air and exercise.
  8. Know where you can go for support within your organisation (e.g. a drop-in group or one-to-one support) and outside of it (e.g. video counselling and online peer support groups).
  9. If you are a senior member of staff, check on your team members’ wellbeing regularly and offer a safe space for them to talk.
  10. Recognise the enormous gratitude of everyone in the UK for your courage and compassion at this difficult time, as seen with #ClapForCarers.

If you need urgent support, please contact Shout (text Shout to 85258) or Samaritans (call 116 123).


As London’s digital mental wellbeing service, Good Thinking has put together the information below to help you manage any concerns you might have about your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

We have also gathered some useful resources to help you support your colleagues at this time.

I’m anxious about my own health

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As a healthcare professional, you have the knowledge and skills to limit the spread of infection but you might still worry about getting ill if you come into contact with patients with coronavirus.

You might find the following information about infection prevention, PPE and testing useful:

To help manage your anxiety:

I’m feeling stressed and I’m also worried about my colleagues getting stressed

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As you come under sustained pressure dealing with coronavirus, it’s important that you find ways to manage your stress levels and help your colleagues to do the same. Try to provide a listening ear and remind each other that you’ll get through this together.

I’m finding it hard to sleep

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After a busy shift, you might find it difficult to switch off and unwind but it’s vital that you get enough sleep.

I’m distressed that I can’t do more for my patients

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Whether you have 40 years of experience or you’re new to the profession, looking after a patient who is seriously ill or dying is very difficult. Take a moment to acknowledge how you feel and remember, there is no right or wrong way to feel. You might find that you experience a range of emotions, including sadness, shock, anger, numbness and even guilt, and move between these feelings at different times.

I’m in self-isolation and finding it difficult

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It’s vital that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, including healthcare professionals, self-isolates in accordance with the official advice. Being at home might be challenging but there are some things you can do to help protect your mental wellbeing.

I’m concerned about how this is affecting my family

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I’m worried about the social stigma of working in healthcare and possible abusive behaviour

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Unfortunately, some of you might experience a negative reaction by members of your community due to stigma or fear. The NHS has a zero tolerance policy towards abusive behaviour.

I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information about coronavirus

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Try to get your information from your employer and the NHS and Government websites only and limit how many times a day you check the news and social media.

Other useful websites and helplines

General

BMJ (article about mental health challenges for healthcare professionals)

COVID @ Home (collaborative guide to COVID-19 care)

e-Learning for Healthcare (coronavirus materials)

FutureLearn (Psychological First Aid training)

General Medical Council (Your Health Matters guide – PDF)

Going for Growth (An outline NHS staff recovery plan post-COVID19)

Every Mind Matters

Health and Care Professions Council (COVID-19 hub)

Mental Health Foundation (coronavirus and mental health advice)

MIND (coronavirus and wellbeing advice)

MIND (mental health at work advice)

NHS Employers (COVID-19 guidance)

NHS Employers (free wellbeing apps for NHS staff)

NHS Practitioner Health (COVID-19 workforce wellbeing advice)

NHS Professionals (COVID-19 resources)

Our NHS People ('Going home' checklist)

Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (COVID-19 updates)

UNISON (COVID-19 advice)

United for Global Mental Health (COVID-19 webinars)

Frontline19 (emotional support service)

Help for Heroes (a field guide to self-care)

Our Frontline (support for key workers)

Allied health professionals

HEE e-Learning for Healthcare (resources for paramedics)

NHS England (COVID-19 letter)

Ambulance service

The Ambulance Staff Charity (mental health support)

MIND (mental wellbeing advice for the emergency services)

Doctors

BMA (COVID-19 guidance)

BMA (wellbeing advice for health professionals)

BMA Wellbeing Service (24/7 helpline for doctors and medical students)

DocHealth (psychotherapeutic consultation service for doctors)

Doctors Support Network (mental health in the workplace)

General Medical Council (Caring for doctors, Caring for patients)

Royal College of General Practitioners (COVID-19 updates)

Royal College of Psychiatrists (COVID-19 guidance)

Royal College of Surgeons

Nursing

Royal College of Nursing (COVID-19 FAQs)

Royal College of Nursing (COVID-19 and your mental wellbeing)

Royal College of Nursing (counselling service for RCN members)

Pharmacy

HEE e-Learning for Healthcare (resources for pharmacy staff)

General Pharmaceutical Council (COVID-19 updates)

Psychological professions

British Psychological Society (COVID-19 guidance)

COVID Trauma Response Working Group

The King’s Fund

Wider healthcare team

Public Health England (COVID-19 organisational preparedness)