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Policy Watch

An eye on policy changes in Ireland, the UK and beyond

Covid-19: Mental Health of Health Workers | New Research Highlights Factors Exacerbating the Pandemic's Mental Health Impact

Mental Health Rights  |  Thu May 06 2021

Covid-19: Mental Health of Health Workers

A survey of UK health workers found that 21% of respondents reported high levels of depression compared with 5% before the pandemic. Severe levels of anxiety rose 8% to 36%, while severe stress increased from 11% to 46%. Nurses reported more severe impacts than doctors, and ethnic minority health workers were 50% more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder than their non-ethnic minority colleagues. All in all 2,773 healthcare workers across 52 NHS trusts took part in the University of Roehampton study, in April and May 2020.

Trade union GMB surveyed care workers and reported that three quarters said their mental health was impacted by working during the pandemic. The union called for reforms including national mental health services, increase in basic pay levels and full sick pay cover.

New Research Highlights Factors Exacerbating the Pandemic's Mental Health Impact

Research by the National Centre for Social Research found mental health impacts of the pandemic across the population. It reported however that these were more severe amongst people who lost their jobs and incomes suddenly and were forced to sign on to Universal Credit or the self-employment income replacement scheme for the first time, and also amongst those who were already struggling financially before the pandemic. The Guardian cited Resolution Foundation findings indicating that people on furlough lost an average of 9% of their income, compared to an income drop of nearly half amongst those suddenly reliant on UC (even given the £20/week uplift).

In addition, a number of studies indicated that people with pre-existing mental ill health were left worse off by the impact of lockdown and pandemic-related stresses. The charity Mind highlighted the negative impact reported by some people of having to access mental health care online or by phone.

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