2021-Mental health support for frontline workers

GCU gives mental health support to COVID-19 frontline superheroes

Wed, 04 Aug 2021 17:34:00 BST

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) students are providing lifeline mental health support for COVID-19 frontline superheroes – 85% of whom are burnt out by the pandemic, according to new research.

Our DPsych Health and Sport and Exercise Psychology trainee psychologists are working with the charity SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) to provide one-to-one sessions through a free and immediate service called Time for You.

A new survey, commissioned by SAMH, revealed that the vast majority (86%) of frontline workers across all sectors involved in keeping the country going during the pandemic reported worsening mental health problems.

The research, carried out by 3Gem on adults in Scotland employed in the frontline sector, found 90% of those working in the retail sector, including supermarket workers and younger people aged between 25-34, have been the hardest hit.

Dr Bryan McCann, GCU Sport and Exercise Psychologist and Lecturer in Psychology, said: “Frontline workers have been superheroes during the pandemic to make sure that vital services are available to the public. 

“They have been under a huge amount of strain, and some frontline workers are likely feeling the effects of that strain. The Time for You service provides frontline workers with invaluable support during these challenging times. 

“GCU are delighted to be able to work with SAMH to help deliver the Time for You service. Our trainee psychologists are providing one-to-one support to frontline workers through the service, and we are conducting an evaluation which will help to enhance the service so that it provides the most appropriate support.”

Dr McCann said working with the Time for You service will give the trainees “invaluable experience and employability skills for the future” as well as make a positive contribution to the community, fulfilling GCU’s mission as the University for the Common Good.

The trainee psychologists offer frontline workers three different levels of mental health support – ranging from self-help resources, to access to talking therapies, like cognitive behavioural therapy.

Zoe Black, Stage 3 Sport and Exercise Psychology trainee, described providing one-to-one support for key workers “challenging but incredibly rewarding and very worthwhile”.

“It has opened my eyes to the large number of challenges faced by these individuals throughout the last 18-months and demonstrated to me how applicable my skills as an applied psychology practitioner are irrespective of the setting. The whole experience of working with SAMH has been in incredibly valuable. 

"I believe everyone's mental health has been challenged this year, but the challenges faced by frontline and key workers have been completely unimaginable. When the opportunity was presented to offer support to these people that have kept the country running irrespective of the mammoth challenges they have faced, I didn't even question my decision. It feels like a privilege to be able to give back to these workers. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity."

Hannah Ranaldi, Stage 3 Health Psychology trainee, said: “Personally having worked in the NHS throughout the pandemic and during my studies, I have seen so many individuals provide great care for everyone else, yet often overlook themselves and how they are feeling. It has been a privilege working with the Time for You Service to support keyworkers and provide them a space to focus on their mental health and overall well-being. I’d recommend for any keyworker to get in touch with SAMH.”

Time for You is provided by SAMH, GCU and Living Life to the Full. It is funded by Foundation Scotland’s Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund, supported by the National Emergencies Trust.