COVID-19 study on the mental health of frontline health and social care professionals

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers have found that more needs to be done to support the mental health of COVID-19 frontline health and social care professionals.

Dr Alex Pollock and Dr Pauline Campbell, from GCU’s NMAHP Research Unit, were awarded £28,317 by the Scottish Government and the Chief Scientist Office to conduct a systematic review and evidence synthesis on ‘Effective interventions to support the resilience and mental health of frontline health and social care staff during a global health crisis and following de-escalation’.

The results of their rapid coronavirus response research have just been published in a Cochrane Review paper here.

Lead author Dr Pollock explained the outcome of the review: “Across the world frontline health and social care professionals are working under stress during this COVID-19 pandemic. Over time this can lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety which may affect work, family and relationships.

“We found a lack of properly planned research studies which can help inform the best ways to support the resilience and mental well-being these health and social care workers through infectious disease epidemics and pandemics. This points to an urgent need for more studies as the absence of this evidence may mean health workers are not being supported as best they can be.

“With the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic there is an opportunity for carefully planned, well-conducted research to determine the best way to support the mental health of frontline workers – I really hope that these research studies are prioritised.

“It’s clear that we now need to expand the scope of this review, and turn to evidence from other diseases and health crises. We also need to bring together evidence about how best to prepare people for frontline work.

“It is also important to remember that the majority of people who work at the frontline are not healthcare professionals, but are, for example, porters or cleaners. We need to make sure that future research addresses ways to support this wider workforce.”

This review was one of three vital GCU-led research projects aimed at tackling the coronavirus and its impact to be awarded £136,290 by the Scottish Government in April.

Dr Jamie Frankis, from the School of Health and Life Sciences, was awarded £49,728 for his project investigating ‘How has COVID-19 social distancing amplified the mental health vulnerabilities of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBM)?’

Professor of Economic Sociology and Social Policy Michael Roy, from the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, received £58,245 to lead a study into ‘Solidarity in a time of crisis: the role of mutual aid to the COVID-19 pandemic’.

The coronavirus research funding was part of a £5 million package to support 55 rapid research projects in 15 Scottish universities and research institutions, contributing to global efforts to combat the virus and its wider effects.

The studies focus on increasing the understanding of coronavirus (COVID-19), screening potential treatments and supporting clinical trials, and researchers were given six months to complete them.

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