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Experiences of mental health professionals supporting front-line health and social care workers during COVID-19: qualitative study

Billings, J; Biggs, C; Ching, BCF; Gkofa, V; Singleton, D; Bloomfield, M; Greene, T; (2021) Experiences of mental health professionals supporting front-line health and social care workers during COVID-19: qualitative study. BJPsych Open , 7 (2) , Article e70. 10.1192/bjo.2021.29. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is having a well-documented impact on the mental health of front-line health and social care workers (HSCWs). However, little attention has been paid to the experiences of, and impact on, the mental health professionals who were rapidly tasked with supporting them. AIMS: We set out to redress this gap by qualitatively exploring UK mental health professionals' experiences, views and needs while working to support the well-being of front-line HSCWs during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHOD: Mental health professionals working in roles supporting front-line HSCWs were recruited purposively and interviewed remotely. Transcripts of the interviews were analysed by the research team following the principles of reflexive thematic analysis. RESULTS: We completed interviews with 28 mental health professionals from varied professional backgrounds, career stages and settings across the UK. Mental health professionals were motivated and driven to develop new clinical pathways to support HSCWs they perceived as colleagues and many experienced professional growth. However, this also came at some costs, as they took on additional responsibilities and increased workloads, were anxious and uncertain about how best to support this workforce and tended to neglect their own health and well-being. Many were professionally isolated and were affected vicariously by the traumas and moral injuries that healthcare workers talked about in sessions. CONCLUSIONS: This research highlights the urgent need to consider the mental well-being, training and support of mental health professionals who are supporting front-line workers.

Type: Article
Title: Experiences of mental health professionals supporting front-line health and social care workers during COVID-19: qualitative study
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1192/bjo.2021.29
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2021.29
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: COVID-19, front-line workers, mental health professionals, psychosocial interventions, qualitative research
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125168
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