COVID-19: mental health helpline for nurses opens

NHS staff can now call a mental health helpline with more than 1,500 volunteers from charities such as Hospice UK and the Samaritans, who will offer support

The helpline is there to support NHS staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. Picture: iStock

Nurses are now able to use an NHS mental health telephone helpline to access support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1,500 volunteers from charities such as Hospice UK and the Samaritans, will offer psychological support to NHS staff and signpost them to services, including practical and financial assistance, and specialist bereavement support.

The phone line 0300 131 7000 will be open between 7am and 11pm every day, while the text service to 85258 will be 24/7.

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Danny Mortimer. Picture: NHSE

‘New and growing challenges on a daily basis’

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: 'We know our teams are providing tremendous support, not just to the patients they’re treating, but to each other, across the health service.

'As the pandemic continues, our people will face new and growing challenges on a daily basis, and it’s therefore more important than ever that they are able to access resources to help them manage their well-being, in a way that suits their needs.'

NHS Improvement chief people officer Prerana Issar said: 'We need to do everything we can to support our incredible NHS people as they care for people through this global health emergency.

'That’s why we have developed a range of support for all NHS staff, from one-to-one mental health support to a sympathetic voice to confide in.'

Helping staff build up resilience

The government’s announcement follows a recent call by emergency worker mental health charity the Laura Hyde Foundation for a dedicated helpline for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  

It also comes a year after a Health Education England-led review into NHS staff well-being urged employers to take steps to support staff in building resilience, which recommended 24/7 trauma support.

Welcoming the annoucment, RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said the professionalism and bravery of nursing staff had been on display during the pandemic, but the added pressure was taking a toll on an overstretched workforce.

‘Acknowledging that nurses need dedicated resources for their mental health is just the start, and we hope that staff in all parts of the UK will be able to benefit from this sort of support during this pandemic, and in the future,’ she said.

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