Coping, dealing with stress and adapting to the 'new norm' : a qualitative analysis of the narratives of mental health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cogan, Nicola and Deakin, Karen and Archbold, Heather and Griffith, Bethany and Smith, Samantha and Saez Berruga, Isabel and Tanner, Gary (2021) Coping, dealing with stress and adapting to the 'new norm' : a qualitative analysis of the narratives of mental health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In: British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference 2021, 2021-06-29 - 2021-06-30, Online.

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    Abstract

    Objectives: Rapid research has reported that the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures has had adverse mental health effects in previously healthy people and especially in people with pre-existing mental health problems. Efforts have been made to adapt the delivery of mental health care to the demands of COVID-19. Yet, little research has considered the impact on mental health workers (MHWs).Design: Qualitative research design based on semi‐structured in‐depth, online interviews.Method: One to one interviews were conducted with MHWs (N = 25) working on the frontline of mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and managed using NVIVO. Qualitative data was analysed using an inductive thematic approach. Expected results: Preliminary analysis suggested the following themes: (1) 'adaptive coping strategies', (2) 'peer support' and (3) 'increased perceived team resilience' helped mitigate against the adverse impact that COVID-19 related stressors have on MHW's mental wellbeing. (4) 'Visible and supportive leadership' was also found to be essential in helping staff gain access to current and accurate information on COVID-19 and in helping workers adapt to constant change. Current stage of work: Data collection began in December 2020 and data collection and analysis is due for completion in June 2021. Conclusions: The implications of these findings are discussed at both the individual and organisational level, emphasising the importance of both peer and team-based support in alleviating the negative impact that COVID-19 has on MHW's mental wellbeing. The importance of supervision and leadership is highlighted.

    ORCID iDs

    Cogan, Nicola ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0861-5133, Deakin, Karen, Archbold, Heather, Griffith, Bethany, Smith, Samantha, Saez Berruga, Isabel and Tanner, Gary;