Staff Psychological Support
Covid Staff Support Psychology Service
Getting support. Why, How and What.
Why access staff support?
When we are faced with challenges and additional stressors, it is easy to believe that we should be able to cope. Trying to cope over a prolonged period of time, with a multitude of stressors is extremely challenging for anyone and everyone. It is normal and ok to find this difficult. The COVID pandemic has brought with it months of challenges and uncertainty as well as reduced access to usual coping mechanisms, including social support. It is therefore, normal and ok to experience intense emotions including low mood, anxiety, irritability, anger as well as feelings of grief or guilt. These feelings may or may not be accompanied by self-critical thoughts such as ‘I am letting myself down’, ‘I am letting others down’ ‘I should be doing better’.
No matter how ‘normal’ or ‘common’ your feelings are, it is ok to ask for some space to talk about them, to reflect on them and to ask for support to manage them. Your experiences and feelings during this pandemic, are just as important as someone else’s.
Here is a list of signs that might mean you could benefit from support:
- Withdrawing from social contacts/isolating yourself
- Lack of enjoyment in normal activities (or lack of motivation to find new ones)
- Feeling persistently low in mood and unhappy
- Feelings of exhaustion, beyond that which you would normally experience
- Feeling anxious to the extent that it affects your daily functioning
- Overwhelmed by constant change
- Feeling unusually jumpy or irritable with others.
- Being more self-critical about yourself at work, or feeling less confident about work
- Strong and persistent feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy
- Feeling ‘cut-off’ or unable to empathise with patients
- Sleep difficulties or nightmares
- Being distressed by memories or images that have stuck with you and you can’t seem to shake off
- Fear of what will happen next or of getting or transmitting COVID-19
- Being preoccupied with ‘what ifs’
- Bereavement/grief related to work
- Drinking more alcohol than you usually would or using recreational drugs
How do I get support?
The Clinical Psychology service is offering easy to access bookable video conferencing or telephone appointments. These are an opportunity to have an assessment of your needs in relation to the impact of COVID-19. Appointments are available Monday - Friday between 9am and 3pm (excluding bank holidays)
To book an appointment, simply e-mail us with your preferred day, whether you prefer phone or video conferencing via Teams or Zoom and your phone number in case we need to contact you regarding an appointment. email@example.com
What happens during an initial COVID staff support session?
The sessions are run by Clinical Psychologists who are friendly, welcoming and experienced in providing supervision, reflective practice sessions and support for emotional wellbeing and mental health issues.
A Clinical Psychologist will contact you at the time of your appointment (via your preferred method, phone or video call). They will spend up to 1 hour with you. They will ask you for some basic background information about your job and personal circumstances such as your current support network. They will ask you to talk about your reasons for accessing support and will guide you through a reflective discussion about your experience of working throughout the pandemic and the emotional impact that this has had on you. They will ask you to think about coping strategies you have used in the past and will reflect on any barriers to using these now. Together, you will consider your support needs and aim to create a plan for how these can be met. This may be through offering a second support session, sending you some information via email after the session or it may be through signposting you to anther service which may be able to help with your particular needs.
The sessions follow usual guidelines regarding confidentiality and your manager will not be routinely contacted. We would only contact your manager in the event we were concerned about risk to yourself or others
The clinical psychology department are sending a weekly Trustwide Pause Button email with helpful information and tips about supporting our psychological wellbeing.
There are a range of options to access 1:1 psychological support: 0800 174319
There are also some great websites with information about services providing psychological support (telephone and virtual) for NHS staff as well as self-help material:
Other sources of support are outlined on the COVID-19 Staff Wellbeing page: https://www.leedsth.nhs.uk/covid19/staff-wellbeing/
After the Storm: Looking after yourself
The first wave is over but life has yet to return to normal. Many of us are now beginning to take stock of what has happened to us over the last several months and to reflect on the personal and professional impact it has had.
Now is a particularly important time to pay attention to our own wellbeing. Sometimes we may need to make little adjustments in the way we cope. Click here for help in recognising when we need extra help and accessing support available.
Project5 - Free Mental Health/Wellbeing Service for Healthcare Workers
Project5 adds extra and vital psychological support to the NHS, offering FREE 1-2-1 sessions with wellbeing specialists.
These sessions are available now (in the wake of COVID19) and into the future, offering the NHS a sustained level of extra capacity.
Project5 is the only independent wellbeing service to be supported by the NHS that offers free 1-2-1 support sessions for anyone in the NHS.
NHS people now have the choice to use either their own wellbeing services or to use Project5, an autonomous service outside of the NHS.
The NHS and Project5 believe that it does not matter where people go if they need the help, it is just important that they do access support, but it has to be at the appropriate level of need and provided for by suitably qualified staff.
Project5 only onboards highly trained, verified professionals. This gives the NHS confidence that they are supporting a service run by qualified and competent specialists.
Project5 pledges to support the NHS now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and into the future. This is a sustainable offering. It can do this because of the way Project5 has been set up (as a rapid-learning evidence-based model). This means the system can rapidly learn and implement service changes according to the changing needs of the NHS.
This launch coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week (18-25 May) and highlights how important it is to get the right help as early as possible. Many people, who are resilient and capable feel that they can carry on without getting help but, psychologically, this leads to early burn out and long-term psychological issues. Project5 is offering a service that aims to help NHS staff access help they need as early as possible.
The NHS has placed Project5 on its support services and access to therapy site, driving traffic to Project5's booking system at www.project5.org and here on the NHS website, https://www.practitionerhealth.nhs.uk/support-services-access-to-therapy
Places to contact in crisis
Whilst the Trust offers individual therapy and support for psychological difficulty surrounding your health condition, it may be that you are experiencing significant immediate distress that poses a risk to your safety (including thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life). If you have these concerns then there are several places you can contact. The information below is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. https://www.leedsth.nhs.uk/a-z-of-services/clinical-and-health-psychology/places-to-contact-in-crisis/
You can contact your GP if you are concerned about your mental health, and feel at risk of harming yourself. Your GP will be able to get you in contact with additional support services if necessary. Your GP may also discuss potential medications to help with your mood or review existing medications.
Samaritans offer a completely confidential, non-advice support service to help people talk through their concerns, worries and troubles. Samaritans is available to anyone 24/7, however distressed. You do not have to be suicidal to contact the Samaritans.(tel: 116 123, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Local Single Point of Access (SPA)
This is a community service that receives self-referrals and those from other professionals involved in your care (from hospital or community). The Single Point of Access offers an initial assessment of a person’s mental health needs, sign-posting them to the appropriate service. This is a useful number to ring if you feel as though you are experiencing a crisis in mental health or frequent and severe suicidal thoughts. This is also a useful number to ring if you have had previous involvement with your local community mental health team and you are feeling unsafe. Each locality in West Yorkshire has a different contact phone number:
Leeds: 0300 3001485
Kirklees and Calderdale: 01924 316830
Wakefield: 01924 316900
Bradford (first response) (Covers Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven): 01274 221181
York: 01904 526582
Hull: 01482 301701
999 + Local Accident & Emergency departments:
If you are feeling severely distressed and have plans to end your life or have already taken action to do so, your local A&E is often the most appropriate place to contact.
If you are receiving input from a Clinical Psychologist or Counsellor within the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology and experience suicidal thoughts then they will assist you in determining the appropriate level of support, either alongside or as an alternative to therapy.
Employee Assistance Programme- Care First
Care first offer staff a confidential free phone 24/7 counselling helpline where you can call any time of day, any day of the year and access immediate in the moment support from an accredited and professionally trained UK based counsellor. The support is completely confidential and you can access help by calling 0800 174 319 free from UK mobile and landlines. You can contact the Care first service as many times as you need for in the moment support.