Support for GPs during Covid-19
This is an extremely difficult time for us all and it is important to realise it is ok not to be ok. This is an abnormal situation and most of us are struggling with it, so we need to support each other more than ever.
Evidence suggests that 5 simple measures can help to support your mental health and well-being:
Social relationships are critical for promoting well-being and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.
- If possible, take time each day to keep in touch with your family.
- Make the most of technology like Skype, FaceTime or zoom.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety and it doesn’t need to be intense to help you to stay well & feel good. What works for you will depend on your home/work environment.
- Walk into work or introduce a regular lunch time walk.
- Do some easy stretching exercises in the morning or ‘P.E. with Joe’
Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being. Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you.
Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction, consider making time to learn something new.
- Find out something new about your colleagues
- Do a crossword or Sudoku
Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.
- Try an increased awareness when saying ‘thank you’ to someone, perhaps another key worker who’s served you at the supermarket?
There are also free mindfulness courses available online: https://mindfulnessexercises.com/free-online-mindfulness-courses/ and here: http://www.freemindfulness.org/
NHSE #OurNHSpeople wellbeing support
Our NHS people are doing extraordinary things in the face of an extraordinary challenge, and so need an extraordinary level of support. This is why the NHS nationally and locally has developed a range of wellbeing support to care for and protect all of our NHS people, whether at the front line or in supporting services.
So, from today, all our people will have access to a range of support (#OurNHSPeople Wellbeing Support) through one point of contact:
- a free wellbeing support helpline 0300 131 7000, available from 7.00 am – 11.00 pm seven days a week, providing confidential listening from trained professionals and specialist advice – including coaching, bereavement care, mental health and financial help
- a 24/7 text alternative to the above helpline – simply text FRONTLINE to 85258
- online peer to peer, team and personal resilience support, including through Silver Cloud, and free mindfulness apps including Unmind, Headspace Sleepio and Daylight
We encourage NHS teams to take immediate advantage of these services. They can be used in addition to the support available from your own NHS organisations and will develop further in coming days and weeks in line with user feedback.
Supporting Staff and Well-being
This Powerpoint presentation has been pulled together by the national NHSE team and has some approaches in which can support staff wellbeing during this time.
This poster has a number of useful resources on it, and can be printed off and displayed in communal areas for all staff to be aware of.
COVID Trauma Response Working Group https://www.traumagroup.org
offers some simple do’s and don’ts, in particular:
- Do encourage staff to use social and peer support. It’s not enough just to have good support systems in place, staff need to actively use them.
- Staff may feel guilty or not want to burden or distress others, particularly their family, so think about how peer and management support can be maximised at work.
- Evidence suggests that when a worker has the informal support of their peers following traumatic exposure, they are less likely to need formal intervention.
- The efficacy of peer interventions does not come from having a single trauma-informed or trained staff member, but rather comes from the camaraderie and sense of common fate that emerges from a shared experience of trauma.
Other useful points include fostering team cohesion, using more naturalistic forms of ‘debrief’ rather than rushing to offer more formal psychological intervention, or a single intervention where people are mandated to talk about their feelings as this can increase the likelihood of developing PTSD.
Managing mental health challenges faced by healthcare workers during Covid-19 pandemic: https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/368/bmj.m1211.full.pdf BMJ on 26th March Neil Greenberg et al. explain the concept moral injury “the psychological distress that results from actions, or the lack of them, which violate someone’s moral or ethical code.” Medical staff will have to make some really difficult moral and ethical decisions, which may lead to feeling of guilt, and longer-term psychological consequences arising from this. Avoidance is a core symptom of trauma, so leaders should reach out to staff who are just “too busy” or repeatedly “not available” as they may be the ones who struggle later.
Red Whale has produced a podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2LQEpJPfcM&feature=youtu.be which we would recommend you listen to.
So, if you are struggling, please reach out to someone. The LMC have some resources, and the new senior appraisers will be in post from April and can make contact with you if need to discuss your situation and signpost you to the appropriate help. http://www.gpappraisals.uk http://www.gpappraisals.uk/occupational-health.html
Below is a list of current resources which you may find helpful. It is not exhaustive, and you may find that some of the resources aren’t useful or appropriate for you – we’ve just tried to make it easier to see what’s available, but please exercise your own judgement when accessing any of these.
This is workplace wellness platform Unmind has announced it will offer free access to its digital resources for all NHS staff in order to help them deal with the pressures and demand on their mental health during the crisis.
Gloucestershire LMC pastoral service http://www.gloslmc.com/blog-gp-support.asp
The Local Medical Committee provides a completely confidential and free service, offering:
- Listening, coaching and, if required, advice to GPs in situations like yours.
- Keeping you company at hearings.
- If necessary, providing completely separate support for the GP and the practice should the two be at variance.
- Providing mediation, if both parties agree.
To seek help of this or any other sort, please contact the Secretary. You will then be given a choice of 2 or more ‘LMC Advocates’ who are senior, experienced and empathetic GPs from whom you can choose to receive help. It will then be up to you to contact them. They will bill the LMC for the work they do, but it is completely anonymised and confidential.
They also provide a password-protected website called the Gloucestershire GP Safe House (GPSH) which, allows you to go alone into each ‘room’ to seek for guidance and help.
BMA wellbeing service
Confidential 24/7 counselling and peer support services open to all doctors and medical students on 0330 123 1245.
Their well-being support services are open to all doctors and medical students. They’re confidential and free of charge.
Headspace is offering 3 months free months free to NHS staff. This is a mindfulness app and can help to improve stress and sleep. To access fill in the form that can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScLSzNkapiJ uVELPwl_bx8NJAfu3PfPQ9yvheXQdVRiRfMLA/viewform
Free therapy for impacted health care workers. Because of the devastating mental health toll exacted by the spread of this virus, Talkspace is devoted to providing 1,000 free months of therapy for impacted doctors, nurses, and social workers. To access this, health care workers should register after downloading the app from the Google Play or Apple’s App Store or via the Talkspace website and provide a picture of your smart card or NHS ID ( they ask for NPI number which is American but accept picture as proof) Once certified for eligibility, these health care workers will be provided access to Talk space’s Unlimited Messaging Plus plan. A picture of your smart card or NHS ID will access this for you. It is a bit of a hassle getting started you link via the app with a matching agent, answer a few questions upload your ID they give you a link and Code which removes the cost ( for at least a month) then choose the text only 1 month plan and enter details.
Remember to cancel before you start paying unless you want to continue.
Helphub. – https://www.thehelphub.co.uk/
An online therapy service is to offer free 20-minute sessions aimed at vulnerable older people and others who are self-isolating or struggling, after therapists across the UK volunteered their help. They are happy to help NHS staff
Help them help us
Are setting up therapists to give free therapy to NHS staff www.helpthemhelpus.co.uk
On 24/03/2020 this is imminent. Go to their website and there is a apply for heroes help button.
Members of Medical Protection society can access 6 free sessions of counselling. Their counselling service is provided by our trusted partners ICAS, who offer a personalised and professional service tailored specifically to your requirements and delivered by experienced qualified counsellors. ICAS’s telephone counselling provides immediate access to support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and face-to-face counselling sessions can be arranged near to you and at your convenience, all funded by Medical Protection. The service is entirely independent and confidential.
Call ICAS now on 0808 189 4385 or +44 3300 241 021 from overseas and quote your Medical Protection membership number to book a free session.
Free+ Frontline Distress Service https://www.frontline19.com
Offers free support for NHS workers directly working with COVID-19 who need support.
Wessex LMC have a useful booklet : https://www.flipsnack.com/WessexLEaD/doc-0129-support-for-gps-what-is-available/full-view.html
The NHS Practitioner Health Service will help GPs with:
- Common and more complex mental health conditions
- Mental health conditions relating to a physical health issue
- Substance misuse including support for community detoxification
- Rehabilitation and support to return to work after a period of mental ill-health.
To sign up, call 0300 0303 300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The line is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 2pm.
Text NHSPH to 85258 for the out-of-hours crisis text service.
Future NHS Collaboration Platform provides access for Returning GPs during the COVID crisis to share & support each other: ‘COVID-19 Response: Returning doctors in primary care’ page.
Do let us know if you’ve found anything else helpful, or if there’s anything else you’d like shared GPs in the county. We would particularly like to hear from you if you have any ideas about how we can best support each other in the coming weeks & months and would encourage you to share this link on social media etc.