Guest Blog:Depressed and stressed NHS mental health staff

The following blog post has been written and kindly donated by:

Sarah-Jayne – @OrdinaryMadBlog

Depressed and stressed NHS

mental health staff


A charter has been set up to address the startling levels of depression and stress in NHS talking therapies staff.

Depressed and stressed NHS mental health staff

A report by the British Psychological Society (BPS) shows that burnout, low morale and mental illness has increased over the last few years within in a workforce that is trying to treat similar difficulties in the general public.

The report asked staff to comment about their working lives, 90% of these comments were negative:

“•           “IAPT [Improving Access to Psychological Therapies] is a politically-driven monster which does not cater for staff feedback/input in any way. All we are told is TARGETS!!! And work harder.”

  • “Being target driven is the bane of our lives.”
  • “I am so disappointed I have just resigned.””

Following this report a charter was launched with the aim to support the mental health of mental health professionals.

Several MPs and government ministers have commented on the charter, highlighting the positive impact it will have, including the Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, Luciana Berger MP:

It is unacceptable that the dedicated psychological professionals, who provide vital support to those in need, are themselves increasingly suffering from stress and other mental health conditions. The Charter will play an important role in helping employers promote and improve the wellbeing of their staff.”

Norman Lamb made a link between the mental health of staff and its impact on Parity of Esteem or equality within the NHS for mental health services:

 “Quite apart from the clear moral argument for taking staff wellbeing seriously, we cannot hope to achieve equality for mental health unless the psychological workforce is properly supported.”

A new target will soon be set for the amount of people accessing psychological support to increase from 15% of the population to 25%, these people should then be seen within 6 weeks. Without a huge increase in funding and resources this target is unmanageable, the pressure on NHS staff will increase further.

It is clear from this report and from conversations happening in the front line that this problem is significant and doesn’t appear to be improving, which begs the question: what is being done about it?

Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners make up a large part of the work force, last week they had their annual conference. Disappointingly there was no mention of the charter or a recognition of the pressure and strain being experienced. Instead the focus was on getting people off benefits and back into work, which only served to lower the morale of an already burnt out group of bright young professionals, who care about the people they are trying to support.

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes president of the British Psychological Society wrote in the BPS magazine about how the charter can be used to help the situation:

“The Charter actually provides a new opportunity for people working in psychological therapy services to raise the issue of the stress involved in this sort of work, the consequence of this work and the effects on work life balance, simply by referring to it in meetings and promoting it in the bottom-up way to their organisations.”

While it is understandable to feel beaten down by the situation, we do all have a responsibility to raise this as an issue in as many levels of front line staff and management as possible. Without having conversations about this issue change is unlikely to happen. Just saying “I’ve just read this charter about our organisation, what do you think we could do to help ourselves and our colleagues?” is a way to take a small step towards tackling this issue.

Sarah-Jayne – @OrdinaryMadBlog


I would personally like to thank Sarah-Jayne – @OrdinaryMadBlog for this stimulating and important contribution to my blog. Let us all continue to share and learn from one another as we all look to improve the staff experience in healthcare for a healthier and safer service for all.

Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.