One in three nurses say mental health has become ‘very bad’ during pandemic

A third of nurses treating Covid-19 patients say their mental health has become “very bad”, according to a poll.

A poll of 3,500 nurses conducted by the Nursing Times found 33 per cent said they were experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety.

Of those surveyed, 87 per cent said they were feeling more stressed at work than usual.

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“Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on the mental health of nurses and care workers,” said Susan Masters, director of nursing, policy and practice at the Royal College of Nursing.

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“They have found themselves in frightening situations, whether that’s working without personal protective equipment (PPE), in unfamiliar environments or worrying about the impact on their family.

“It is as important to tackle these issues and make staff feel safe as it is to provide counselling or occupational health services. We must make sure that care workers, who face the same distressing situations as those in acute care, also have access to these services.”

As a result of the poll, the Nursing Times has launched a “Covid-19: Are you OK?” campaign to monitor the wellbeing of nurses on the frontline.

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Steve Ford, Nursing Times editor, said: “Dealing with the [pandemic] is exacting a heavy mental and emotional toll on the nursing workforce.

“We want to ensure that employers, while they grapple with the crisis facing them from patient demand, also look after their nursing workforce. Failure to do the latter would negate the former.”

The poll is the latest in a series of alarming reports to come from the health sector over concerns about mental health and a lack of PPE.

Last week, a YouGov poll for the Institute for Public Policy Research Institute thinktank found that more than half of health workers across the sector said the pandemic is having a “severe impact” on their mental health.

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The poll also found that rates of anxiety and burnout are far higher than usual, with 50 per cent of 996 healthcare workers surveyed saying their mental health had deteriorated since Covid-19 began affecting the UK.

Just under half said are worried about their family’s safety due to a lack of PPE.

Less than a third of healthcare workers felt the government was doing enough to protect their mental health – 43 per cent of those said too little was being done.

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