Pictured: The Staff Mental Health Service team ready to welcome NHS colleagues at their base in Douglas House, Cambridge.
NHS staff across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough now have access to a pioneering service providing specialist mental health care and support for NHS Trust staff dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The service, which is run by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT), is available for NHS staff working at local hospitals, mental health, community and social care Trusts.
Since launching in September last year, it has already received over 300 referrals.
The multi-disciplinary team provides rapid psychiatric assessment and treatments, psychological therapies, and tailored occupational health support. Staff can access the service via referral from NHS Trust occupational health services, or their GP. Privacy and confidentiality of NHS colleagues is respected at all times, and a team guide can be checked on the website to ensure they are matched to someone they feel comfortable with: www.cpft.nhs.uk/smhs
CPFT Deputy Medical Director and Project Lead Dr Cathy Walsh (pictured left) said:
“We know that NHS staff have faced unprecedented demands due to the coronavirus pandemic. Services like the Staff Mental Health Service, with integrated occupational health support, have always been needed but are particularly critical at this time to provide rapid help to staff who may be experiencing severe anxiety and distress.
“Covid-19 has been unusual in terms of the scale and duration of the pandemic and the pressures staff are dealing with. By integrating research into our service, we hope to learn more about the psychological and psychiatric impacts on healthcare staff and how best to support them. Looking after the mental health of our NHS Trust colleagues in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will build resilience for teams responding to crisis situations, now and in the future.”
The Staff Mental Health Service is funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System (ICS), a new partnership of local health and care organisations working together to coordinate and improve services to ensure they meet the needs of our local staff and patients.
Mike More, Interim Chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough ICS said:
“The Staff Mental Health Service is one of the first of its kind in the country to offer support to local NHS staff who are experiencing moderate to severe mental health conditions. Our staff have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months and together, as a local health and care system, we are committed to ensuring we continue to prioritise and invest in mental health services, so our staff have access to the right care and support if they need it.”
Research has shown that frontline health professionals can be vulnerable and less likely to access care due to fear of stigma, worries about their career and reputation, attitudes of peers and colleagues, compounded by the pressure and stress they experience working in demanding environments.
Clinical lead for the service Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Muzaffer Kaser (also front left, main photo) said: “We encourage any staff experiencing overwhelming difficulties to seek help at work and we offer a rapid access, inclusive, confidential mental health service.
"Although there are many self-help resources and wellbeing initiatives, there was a clear need for a dedicated clinic for staff with more complex mental health needs. Our stepped-up, multi-disciplinary mental health service is for NHS staff in all roles, accessible through their employer trusts in Cambridgeshire in Peterborough.”
More information on the service can be found at: www.cpft.nhs.uk/smhs
Other local mental health services and resources
All health and care staff working in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough can visit the new Covid-19 Staff Support Hub launched this year to access a dedicated wellbeing support line and self-help resources: www.cpft.nhs.uk/c19staffsupporthub
For anyone in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (not just health and care staff) experiencing mild to moderate mental health symptoms, stress, anxiety, depression or difficulty sleeping, CPFT's Psychological Wellbeing Service (IAPT) offers free, evidence-based psychological therapies.
You can refer yourself here.