A senior clinician at London’s Nightingale Hospital has praised the work Help for Heroes has done to support the mental health of frontline NHS workers.
Professor James Calder had a 14-year military career and was one of the clinical leads at NHS Nightingale at the ExCel Centre. Help for Heroes made its’ Field Guide to self-care available to those working in healthcare due to the similarities between those who served on the frontline in the Armed Forces and NHS staff battling the coronavirus pandemic. Professor Calder has thanked us for providing resources to the nation’s health workers.
He said: “The NHS was under unprecedented pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic with staff having to work with a new frightening disease, in an unfamiliar environment and frequently in new teams. These factors coupled with the high mortality rates and necessary difficulties communicating with patients, relatives and other members of staff put huge strains on the mental well-being of all those on the front-line.
“The NHS had to focus on fighting the pandemic and yet there was a need for huge changes in the mental health support for its staff. Help for Heroes immediately stepped in to advise on how mental welfare could be supported offering practical measures that had been developed from years of supporting military veterans in conflicts across the globe.
“Help for Heroes was instrumental in linking their experts and sharing their experience which could be incorporated into a rapidly evolving NHS response to support its staff during the pandemic but also, importantly, ensuring that access to such support continued after they had returned to their normal places of work.”
We recently invited wounded veterans, serving personnel and family members to take part in a survey to help us better understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their wellbeing. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of veterans who feel they aren’t managing their mental health (50%) and their physical health (48%) well. The three hardest parts of lockdown were reported as concerns about mental health worsening (57%), difficulty sleeping (42%) and living with general anxiety (41%).
To address these needs, we are delivering online sleep management support and our Hidden Wounds therapy sessions are being successfully delivered by phone and video conference. We are also delivering virtual coffee mornings and developing online sports and physical wellbeing activity schedule and Q&A sessions to motivate and engage veterans and families. We have also continued to provide specialist clinical advice and support to the UK’s most seriously injured veterans and their carers and financial grants to those with urgent care needs.
We are adapting the format of our services to provide high quality support to those coping with injury and illness during these uncertain times and are committed to responding to the needs of veterans, latest government guidance and in consultation with partners such as the NHS to continue providing high quality support and championing the needs of our wounded to ensure they get the fair deal they deserve.