The British Psychological Society (BPS) is calling for more investment in mental health services for NHS staff in a bid to tackle its workforce crisis.
In a new report called Learning from the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs, BPS suggests that long-term funding for these services is essential in order to retain staff.
The document also proposes that investment in this area is necessary if that NHS Long Term Workforce Plan is to be delivered.
According to the BPS, there is a need for standards in mental health support services because employees struggling with their mental wellbeing could be facing a “postcode lottery” when it comes to accessing provisions to help them continue working.
It highlights that its report “aims to support health and care leaders when they make crucial decisions about future investment in local staff mental health and wellbeing services, as demand for dedicated help continues to rise”.
Established in February 2021, NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs aimed to offer speedy access to mental health provisions for health and social care workers, until government funding stopped in March this year.
The report sets out eight key values and recommendations for mental health and wellbeing services for NHS employees based on what it has learned from the hubs and the wider evidence. It provides significant insight into how the provisions affect sickness and retention rates among the workforce, in addition to the financial benefits of effectively supporting staff with their mental health.
The BPS also aims to shrink any knowledge gaps around mental health and wellbeing, particularly following the closure of many hubs post-pandemic when funding ended.
Dr Roman Raczka, president-elect of the British Psychological Society, said: “The need for mental health and wellbeing support for NHS and social care staff didn’t begin with the pandemic, and it hasn’t ended with it. Staff sickness absence for mental health reasons remains worryingly high. We are in a well-documented workforce retention crisis, and patient safety is an ongoing concern.
“The creation of the NHS Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs saw a period of significant investment and innovation in staff mental health and wellbeing services, so it was vital that learning from them was not lost. I hope the eight guiding principles and recommendations outlined in this report will be a useful tool to support decision-making around future provision.
“The ambitious measures set out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan are not a quick fix. Existing and future staff members deserve to work in an environment that gives them the support they need, to provide the safe, high-quality care they as health and care professionals are proud to give. Put simply, NHS and social care employers cannot afford to ignore the mental health needs of their workforce, if they wish to create a system that’s fit for the future.”