COVID-19: struggling nurses need psychological support, says charity

Suicide prevention charity calls for dedicated helpline for healthcare staff affected by COVID-19 crisis

Picture: iStock

A mental health charity has seen an increase in calls from nurses struggling to cope as they work on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calls for dedicated mental health helpline for healthcare workers 

The Laura Hyde Foundation is calling on the government to set up a dedicated, clinically supervised helpline for healthcare workers affected by the crisis.

It warns of a ‘ticking time-bomb’ of mental health problems among NHS staff. 

Charity founder Liam Barnes warns of
a 'ticking time bomb' among NHS staff

Charity founder and trustee Liam Barnes said: ‘As a comparison, we are dealing with a more than 60% increase in calls compared with usual traffic and an 88% increase in what we would class as acute requests, which often involve the individual being desperate for any type of counselling or support.

‘It is clear that the well-being of staff needs to be a priority for all concerned, including the general public.’

Lessons from Italy after nurse dies by suicide

The need for psychological and emotional support for front-line staff caring for COVID-19 patients has been highlighted by the death of a nurse in Italy.

The National Federation of Nurses of Italy (Federazione Nazionale Ordini Professioni Infermieristiche) expressed its ‘pain and dismay’ at nurse Daniela Trezzi's death, which it said was by suicide.

‘The terrible episode, unfortunately, is not the first since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency – a similar episode happened a week ago in Venice,’ it said in a statement.

Ms Trezzi was employed at the San Gerardo Hospital in Monza, which is in the severely-hit Lombardy region.

The hospital's director-general Mario Alparone said Ms Trezzi’s death highlighted the very difficult situation clinicians are facing.

Risk of post-traumatic stress disorder for front-line nurses 

Howard Catton: Nurses will need
long-term support

International Council of Nurses chief executive Howard Catton said as well as the fears and anxieties nurses experience during the pandemic, thought must be given to the support they will need in its aftermath.

‘Many nurses will carry this experience with them for a long time and some will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of what they are going through,’ he said.

‘We must make sure we not only provide support now, but monitor and support people once the virus has been defeated to make sure there aren't nurses who are victims of COVID-19 months and years afterwards.’

The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for a comment on mental health support for nurses.

Do you need help?

RCN members can get free, confidential support and assistance to help them deal with personal and work-related issues. The RCN counselling service is available 8.30am–8.30pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year. To make an appointment call 0345 772 6100

The Samaritans offers a safe place to talk any time, including about job-related stress or anxiety. Call free on 116 123 


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