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Three in four NHS staff struggled with mental health in the past year

A survey conducted by NHS Charities Together found that over three in four (76%) NHS staff have experienced a mental health condition in the last year.

In addition, more than one in two (52%) reported experiencing anxiety and a similar proportion (51%) had struggled with low mood. Over two in five (42%) respondents said they’d experienced exhaustion and three in five (60%) said they were worried about their colleagues’ mental health. 

Despite the challenges they face, NHS staff remain loyal. Over two in three (68%) said they are unlikely to leave the NHS within the next 12 months, and almost four in five (79%) of NHS healthcare professionals feel proud to work for the NHS.

Far from being a seasonal issue, ‘winter pressures’ are felt by NHS staff all year round. A huge 96% of NHS staff surveyed said they believed that pressure on NHS services is growing. Faced with the responsibilities of saving lives, high workload, long and unsociable hours and exposure to traumatic events, it’s no surprise that many NHS staff are struggling with their mental health.

These findings confirm how vital it is to prioritise mental wellbeing of the NHS workforce so that they can continue to deliver the best care for their patients.

The survey also found:

  • Over two in three (69%) say morale is the lowest they have ever experienced
  • Seven in 10 (70%) say stress at work has negatively impacted their mental health in the workplace in the last year.

Ellie Orton OBE, CEO of NHS Charities Together, said: “Staff working within the NHS do a hugely challenging job every day, often dealing with traumatic events most of us would never encounter. The majority of NHS staff love doing the job they do, and both NHS staff and the general public feel proud of our NHS.

"But the nature of the work can have a detrimental impact on their mental health, and stigma can prevent them talking about it.Many NHS Trusts are already doing what they can to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of our NHS staff, but it doesn’t go far enough. We will continue to work closely with NHS England and across the UK to ensure the additional support we provide for NHS staff has the most impact.

“NHS Charities Together already funds extra support such as counselling, green spaces, helplines and wellbeing zones and we’re launching Our Support Goes Both Ways campaign to raise awareness that while those who work for the NHS have a duty to care and protect us all, we all have a responsibility to make sure those who work for the NHS are looked after too.”

Responding to the survey, RCN Head of Nursing Practice and Professional Lead for Mental Health, Stephen Jones, said: “These findings highlight just how demoralised and burnt out NHS workers really are. Nursing staff go to work to care for their patients but are being emotionally and physically pushed to the edge.

“Health service leaders and ministers need to recognise that the pressures on staff are unsustainable. Chronic workforce shortages and sky-high demand for services are driving a mental health emergency, whilst sustained real-terms pay cuts have exposed NHS workers to a devastating cost of living crisis. It cannot be overemphasised just how difficult it is to work in the NHS right now.

“We need more mental health support for NHS staff – but, crucially, we also need serious action to address workforce shortages, dangerous workloads and to properly lift pay. Employers have a legal duty to their staff to identify and tackle the causes of work-related stress, but governments must also stop kicking the can down the road and address the underlying causes.”

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Upcoming Events

BAUN Summer Educational Event – Essential Urology Skills

Crowne Plaza, Newcastle Stephenson Quarter
6th June 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Exeter

University of Exeter
22nd June 2024

EBME Expo

Coventry Building Society Arena
26th - 27th June 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Cardiff

TBA, Cardiff
13th July 2024

AfPP Annual Conference 2024

University of Warwick
2nd - 3rd August 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - London

Cavendish Conference Centre, London
14th September 2024

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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