Nursing staff cover-up mental health issues over fears they will let down colleagues or be struck-off, finds report

More than 300 nurses and other NHS workers tried to end their own life during the pandemic.

Matt Bodell
23 June 2021
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Hundreds of frontline workers also admitted covering up mental health problems.

More than 300 nurses and other NHS workers tried to end their life during the pandemic with many more misleading managers over fears they will let down colleagues or be struck off for suffering from mental health issues, a disturbing new report reveals.

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A major study by the Laura Hyde Foundation highlights the scale of poor mental ill-health across the NHS and within other 999 services. In it, the LHF has uncovered new figures which detail how many frontline workers tried to commit suicide last year.

In the report, hundreds of frontline workers also admitted covering up mental health problems over fears they will be struck-off by their regulator or feel they have let down colleagues.

Now, in a bid to provide support, the LHF is releasing a free suicide prevention resource that will be distributed to tens of thousands of NHS staff, hospitals, police stations and fire and rescue sites where 999 workers are based.

A pandemic of mental health problems.

Liam Barnes, Chairman of the LHF, said: “Make no mistake, we are now entering a new pandemic. A pandemic of mental health problems for frontline workers who stepped up at a time of national emergency. We have to help them.”

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Mr Barnes’ warning is based on a six-month study which the LHF has carried out using proprietary research and data obtained from their support services and surveys. It found Emergency Service and NHS staff are found to be at a statistically higher risk of suicide than the average.

Stark figures reveal that 312 nurses ended their own lives between 2019 and 2019.

A separate LHF survey found that 71% of NHS workers were often not entirely truthful about their reasons for sickness absence with 44% saying they would rather tell managers they were off due to musco-skeletal issues than admit they were suffering with mental health issues.

Over half (53%) of staff said they feel uncomfortable taking up employer-based mental health support services due to worries they would let colleagues down or are fearful of being struck-off.

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Too hard or too taboo.

Commenting on the findings, Mr Barnes, who launched the LHF after his cousin Laura, a Royal Navy nurse, passed away from suicide, added: “Mental health has been a fashionable topic to highlight over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic and whilst there has been a significant of swell of goodwill and resources provided to our emergency services which is indeed critical, the topic of suicide is often too hard or too taboo to reference.

“The reality is that our emergency services find themselves in another pandemic other than Covid-19. This mental health pandemic has been around way before Covid-19 and the often extreme results of these issues are very real and personal to our cause.

“We are determined to use our very own Laura’s story to highlight that suicide is very real and far too frequent for it not to be discussed. The statistics we highlight today show this and we encourage people to remove the barriers and get the help they need.

“We believe that the resources we can now make available to anyone that needs it, highlight fit for purpose support lines but also provide education and destigmatisation on the topic of suicide and the distinct conditions that can lead to it.”

“We believe this campaign will help educate but more importantly save lives.

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