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The William Harvey Research Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Researchers propose guidance for improving mental wellbeing among healthcare professionals

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have proposed a multi-pronged approach to support the mental wellbeing of healthcare professionals in the UK and globally. 

Image of an healthcare professional

Healthcare professional.

The recommendations, published in eClinicalMedicine, are based on their own observational research plus an extensive review of clinical trials examining ways to improve mental health and reduce burnout amongst healthcare professionals in a COVID-19 pandemic setting.

Strategies to support all healthcare professionals

Collett et al. recommend that healthcare employers should provide good quality overall workplace support, and highlight the importance of visible and approachable leadership, and fostering a culture where staff feel valued and heard. Moreover, transparent communication, adequate staffing levels, and fostering camaraderie amongst colleagues are seen as key elements in cultivating a supportive environment. Additionally, the implementation of internal and external training programmes geared towards building resilience  and equipping healthcare professionals with effective coping mechanisms for dealing with work-related stress is deemed essential.

Access to therapeutic interventions

Ensuring easy and early access to tailored therapeutic interventions is highlighted as another crucial aspect of support. By addressing mental health stigma and recognising the individual and organisational factors contributing to mental illness, healthcare systems can better cater to the needs of their workforce. Collett et al. emphasize the importance of early intervention and tailored support for those dealing with mental health challenges. 

Promoting healthy lifestyles

Recognising the link between physical and mental wellbeing, the researchers advocate for workplace initiatives aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles among HCPs. Regular mindfulness practice, physical activity, and a balanced diet are all consistently associated with improved mental health. To facilitate these endeavours, employers are encouraged to subsidise subscriptions to mindfulness apps, gym memberships, and nutritional programmes, all of which are likely to be cost-effective as they are self-implemented. 

Financial considerations and return on investment

The question naturally arises regarding the financial feasibility of implementing these services within healthcare systems globally, many of which are facing budgeting challenges akin to those in the UK. However, the authors assert that the potential benefits will outweigh the costs. 

By reducing staff turnover and absenteeism stemming from mental health issues, these initiatives are likely to offer a notable return on investment. Reinvesting the accrued savings back into support mechanisms ensures the long-term sustainability of these strategies.

Senior author, Dr Ajay Gupta from Queen Mary University of London said: “Healthcare professionals were already at risk of adverse mental health and burnout even before the pandemic. These risks have been exacerbated during the pandemic and may continue given the subsequent economic and healthcare budgeting crises in the UK and globally. We suggest strategies that are supported by robust clinical trials showing that they are effective in reducing the mental health burden and improving the wellbeing of healthcare professionals in a resource poor/work- related stress setting, such as that during in the pandemic. These strategies will help inform policy to help support all healthcare professionals.”

Further information

  • ‘Potential strategies for supporting mental health and mitigating the risk of burnout among healthcare professionals: insights from the COVID-19 pandemic’ is published in eClinicalMedicine: 



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