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30 Mar 2020

Social service workforce

Mental health and wellbeing: key messages for staff

Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Mental Health has written to health and social care staff with information and resources to help look after their mental health and wellbeing while dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

You are likely to be under increased pressure over this period and you will need appropriate support. It is going to be crucial that we are all able to talk openly and honestly about our mental health and wellbeing, and that we have access to the right help and support when we need it. Looking after our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

You need care too

Here are some tips for staying safe and well.

Information and social media

  • Get timely, accurate and factual information about COVID-19 from a reliable source no more than a couple of times a day.
  • If you are feeling stressed or anxious, consider how you feel when you have constant exposure to media coverage and graphic news stories. Although it is important to stay informed, consider taking a break if you feel things are getting on top of you.

Looking after your basic needs

  • Take care of your basic needs at work. Eat and drink regularly and healthily.
  • Always take regular breaks during shifts.
  • Allow time for sleep, rest and respite between shifts.
  • Try and stay as connected to your friends and family as much as possible via technology.
  • Maintain, where possible, your normal daily routine and a healthy diet, and get fresh air when you can. Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies that involve alcohol, tobacco or an unhealthy diet.
  • Think about creating a consistent routine to ensure you get the amount of sleep you need, but also about ensuring your bedroom is quiet, dark and a relaxing environment to sleep in.

Looking after each other

  • Speak to colleagues, line managers and professional leaders, building this into your team’s daily huddles and handovers. They may be feeling the same way. It’s good to talk. Peer and social support are often the best buffers against stress and adversity.
  • Look out for each other and share small successes about what’s gone well. 
  • Be kind to each other. This can have a profound impact on staff wellbeing. 
  • Use the Going Home checklist, where relevant, to leave work in work. 
  • It’s good to talk, but not all of you will be ‘talkers’. That’s OK too but make sure you give yourself space to process the events of the day and deal with your feelings.

More information

It is perfectly normal to feel worried during exceptional times such as these. However, if you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a colleague. A helpline such as NHS24 (shortcode 111) or Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87) may also help.

You may find the following websites helpful:

NHS Education for Scotland
NHS Inform
Support in Mind Scotland
Breathing Space
Mental Health Foundation

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council
lorraine.wakefield@sssc.uk.com