Psychological support

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REACTMH® conversation training: Empowering you to support the mental health and wellbeing of our NHS people

As a good employer, it is our moral imperative to make sure our people have the practical and emotional support they need to do their jobs. Across the NHS it is the aim to equip NHS managers, supervisors and those with caring responsibilities for NHS people to confidently hold supportive and compassionate mental health and wellbeing conversations, during and beyond COVID-19.

Why this training is important?

The mental health and wellbeing of staff is of paramount importance. We know that line managers and those with similar supervisory and supportive roles can have a significantly positive, or negative, impact on the mental wellbeing of the people in their teams and communities. Having supportive wellbeing conversations enables people to continue to effectively deliver patient care, as psychologically healthy people are likely to perform better. Evidence shows that managers and those in similar supportive roles who are trained in identifying the need for and facilitating supportive mental health and wellbeing conversations with their team members and colleagues can reduce their risk of longer-term mental ill health by 90%.

Booking on REACTMH Conversation Training           

What you will learn?  This short remote live REACT Mental Health training session will enable you to identify people in your team or community who may be struggling with their mental health, initiate a supportive wellbeing conversation, confidently hold the conversation using active listening skills, and signpost them to appropriate support. You will gain new knowledge and have a chance to put this into practice during the session. The training is underpinned by psychologically sound principles and the REACTMH technique comprising of: Recognise, Engage, Actively listen, Check risk, and Talk about specific actions. The REACTMH technique is well-established and has been delivered for the past three years to thousands of people across public and private sector organisations.

Who is it for?  All managers, supervisors and those with caring responsibilities for NHS people, in clinical and non-clinical NHS services, across all our NHS, health and care organisations – in particular those working in areas exposed to high risk of stress, burnout and disadvantaged groups during COVID-19.  Delivered virtually:  Sessions last up to 1.15 hours and run remotely using virtual platform technology.

Who delivers it? NHS England and NHS Improvement are working in partnership with March on Stress who are experts in managing wellbeing during crisis situations to deliver their REACTMH training.

How do I book? Visit our website and register /  sign into your account  and then visit our events page  to search for and book onto a REACTMH session at a time and date that suits you.

What happens next: You will be emailed joining instructions a couple of days before the event starts. Please make sure that your chosen IT equipment (e.g. computer, phone, and tablet) has the required working software (Zoom) to run the session in advance.



We recognise this is an anxious time for colleagues and have compiled a range of measures to support colleagues, including those experiencing emotional distress, and some information about additional support measures we are putting in place.  

Our resources pages are being compiled which will provide advice and support on a range of subjects including anxiety, panic, trauma and stress/burn out.  

Colleagues may find this short handout on Coronavirus and Anxiety developed from information supplied by British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, helpful. See advice and FAQs page here


PPE for the Mind (Psychological Perspectives on Experiences)

'PPE for the Mind' is a collaboration between Organisational Development, Occupational Health and Trust Psychologists.


Burnout has been identified as a significant problem for healthcare professionals. According to the World Health Organisation, Burnout is classified as occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed characterised by energy depletion and exhaustion, increased mental distance from or feelings of cynicism about one’s job and reduced professional efficacy, (World Health Organisation, 2019).

Athough Burnout refers to the occupation context, it is important to note that at the present time given the coronavirus outbreak, there are new daily challenges not only in the workplace but within our personal and social lives that are likely to impact on our ability to do our job, how we feel about our job and how we feel we are performing. Therefore, it is helpful to be mindful about the expectations we have of ourselves and our colleagues and try to be realistic about what we can achieve both individually and as a service.

For more information about the impact of burnout on healthcare workers please go to:

For more information about ways to combat burnout please go to:

Burnout Leaflet


Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence


During the COVID pandemic how often have you caught yourself saying: “They should be more careful! People are so stupid! Look at them all at the beach – unbelievable!”.

Right now you may be worried and feel that it is all hopeless. This is when we are caught in our ‘Circle of Concern’, which creates anxiety and a sense of futility and we might just give up trying.  However, what if we focus on things we can control such as our own behaviours in maintaining a safe distance, or picking up the phone and asking for a catch up? We can then feel more energised and take others with us. Suddenly, we have a social movement. Think about the last time you made an important decision and acted on it. How did that feel? More information about Circle of Concern versus Circle of Influence.

You don’t have to be in crisis to benefit from psychologically informed support, and it may help you better understand yourself and others in the workplace. For more information, click visit the UHP support hub.


Did you know that even change which is desired, such as getting your dream job, scores high on assessment scales for stress?

That’s because all change, even positive, reawakens fears about survival – even when our lives are not in any actual danger. From the birth of a new sibling to the death of a parent, change also triggers feelings and memories from our past that we may not even be conscious of. Some of these unconscious feelings are playing out now in our teams, as each of us responds to COVID in our unique way, related to our unique personal histories. This may be altering team dynamics in ways that can be hard to understand, for everyone and particularly for managers.

You don’t have to be in crisis to benefit from psychologically informed support, and it may help you better understand yourself and others in the workplace.


Imposter Syndrome

In the current climate there is lots of focus on key workers as heroes but that may not be our lived experience. As we adapt to new challenges, we may end up thinking ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ as we cherry pick perceived role models and find ourselves wanting. It’s endemic in the NHS.

Imposter Syndrome summarises all of these emotions. The main issue is the fear of being “found out”; the impact is that it can drive long working hours, risk avoidance, defensive responses to feedback or complete avoidance of work that may stretch us. We cope by adopting positive strategies such as self-development and attention to detail, but unchecked can lead to “Burn Out”.

Respond by looking for the positives, be open to others opinions and perspectives and accept that is all they are. Read more about imposter syndrome.


While most of us are less active at present than in our usual daily lives, many have reported feeling strangely fatigued. Reasons you may be aware of include: Boredom and monotony, having children at home, juggling home schooling and working from home, or going to work in new and unfamiliar environments to name just a few.

Other reasons you may not be aware of include:

Being in an almost constant state of high alert - At present our brains are constantly alert to the danger of the virus and our bodies in a continual state of readiness to deal with the threat.

Poor quality sleep- Many people have reported being plagued by nightmares or intense dreams which are the brains way of processing what’s happening.

Having to adapt to new routines also impact on the level of fatigue we experience-which may be further exacerbated by the ever-changing government guidelines.


Responding to Disappointment


As we have been living through the pandemic, having hope about a more positive future is really important to us.  When we are disappointed it can take hold and be a distraction.  It can lead to long term cynicism and negativity i.e. “Perpetual Disappointment”  just think Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.  Disappointment is a feeling “of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations,” says Google.  But according to Brenee Brown; “Joy comes to us in moments – ordinary moments.  We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary” . 

The following 4 steps describe how to manage disappointment: 


  1. Accept  and Acknowledge the situation – talk about your disappointment, it is real, and you have the right to feel the way you do. 
  2. Make a conscious choice about how you are going to respond to that disappointment – remember to be compassionate and kind both to yourself and others. 
  3. Review  and reframe your expectations to a realistic level, that’s not to dumb down your ambition but think what could be possible in this context?  E.g. recreating your version of holidaying abroad as a staycation.
  4.  Finally take a breath, think positively and let it go.   


Gambling Awareness


There has been much in the news about how the coronavirus pandemic has been "absolutely disastrous" for people suffering from gambling addiction. Boredom, sport cancellations and money freed-up from mortgage holidays could also be increasing the risk, including for recovering gamblers. If this is a situation you or a family member/friend or colleague are experiencing, you can find some helpful advice and sources of available here:

GambleAware: Support for Family and Friends (Aug20) 

GambleAware: Tools to help you stop gambling (Aug20) 

GambleAware: Help with Gambling Problems (2019) 

GambleAware: Dealing with Gambling Debt (2019) 


For further information please follw this link:

For Staff Support please follow this link to the Staff support page.

For more information, contact Helen Catherall, OD Facilitator, on



Schwartz Rounds are now available online

What is a Schwartz Round?

  • Forum for staff to discuss the emotional and social aspects of working in a hospital.
  • An opportunity to hear stories from colleagues across the hospital.

Rounds are a forum for hospital staff from all backgrounds to regularly come together to discuss the non-clinical aspects of their work. This may include the psychological, emotional and social challenges associated with caring for patients.

Rounds are held once a month for an hour and, when held in person, are preceded by a buffet lunch/breakfast. During the first 15 minutes of the session, a multidisciplinary panel of 3-4 staff will have volunteered to talk about their experience. This may relate to an episode of patient care or a theme that arises in hospital work. The following 45 minutes is for wider discussion, guided by a facilitator. Generally, between 20-120 people attend a Round. Examples of topics discussed in a Round could include:

  • ‘Making mistakes: coping with the impact’
  • ‘What my patient taught me’
  • ‘Caught between the patient and their family’

All staff are invited to attend Rounds, no matter what their discipline, and whether they are clinical or non-clinical staff.

Attendance at Rounds is voluntary, and you may choose to speak and share some of your own experiences or participate by listening to others with similar and different experiences to your own.

We encourage staff to talk about their experience of Rounds with colleagues, however we do request that the confidentiality of individual contributions is respected. With this in mind, all staff are required to sign a statement of confidentiality when they attend.

You can join a virtual session via Zoom which is accessible on any device e.g. laptop, mobile phone, ipad etc.  You can access it in work or from home, there are no restrictions other than a quiet space for you to engage and importantly maintain confidentiality of what is being shared.

We can’t offer you a buffet lunch, but we invite you to make a coffee, take a breath and join us at your home or workspace for a Virtual Schwartz Round

**Allow yourself plenty of time to sign in please**

We will open the ‘virtual doors’ early and recommend you sign in before you make your coffee!

To be added to the mailing list, email


MindEd Covid-19 Resilience Hub

This draws together the best advice and tips from a large panel of international experts to guide you and your team. Created on behalf of Health Education England in partnership with NHS England-Improvement. Supported by Skills For Care, this Hub is for everyone on the front line health and care services.

It includes of resources for managers and team leaders. 

Visit the MindEd Resilience Hub


Guidance for Managers & Colleagues on Shielding

As lock-down restrictions are eased, vulnerable colleagues who have shielded at home will be invited to slowly and safely return to work in the NHS. This is likely to cause increased anxiety for some colleagues and will require compassion and flexibility when welcoming them back. This national NHS guidance via the link below has been developed to help:

  • People who have been shielding as they slowly start to return to work to feel less anxious and more supported.
  • Work colleagues and managers to understand what it may have been like for people who have shielded and how to compassionately welcome them back into the workplace.


Counselling services

Project5 Free one-to-one support

Project5 is an online booking system which gives NHS staff access to free one-to-one support from a team of volunteer coaches and mental health practitioners.  So far, over 4,000 such volunteers have registered meaning that we can potentially support thousands of healthcare workers every month. 

Many NHS staff members are face serious mental health challenges such as stress and trauma as a result of treating patients with coronavirus (COVID-19) and the pressures on the NHS at this time. As well as the immediate impact of caring for patients in critical condition, and the fear of catching the virus, staff are often worried about their family’s safety and their ability to deliver the best possible care as the pandemic evolves.

Project5 works alongside our courageous and tenacious NHS mental health colleagues to offer the additional psychological support required during a sustained frontline medical crisis.

Project5 provides support for stressed staff (coaching) through to distressed staff (wellbeing support from mental health practitioners).

Get project5 support


Occupational Health & Wellbeing Department’s Staff Counselling Team 

A telephone drop in is available on Wednesday mornings in addition to booked appointments.The Staff Counselling Team is also helping to deal with staff and management enquiries via the advice line.  

24 Hour Counselling Helpline 

Immediate advice and support is available for staff via the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) available 24/7 via telephone, including information and practical support in relation to stress, anxiety and health.  


The Trust’s Pastoral and Spiritual Care Team 

The chaplaincy is here for you and support and can be accessed by 01752 245255 (or internal 55255) or via switchboard on 01752 202082 day or night to page the duty Chaplain. 


Priority wellbeing support for NHS and social care staff from Devon Partnership NHS Trust 

Do you need individual support with your wellbeing? Self-refer to TALKWORKS online at or call 0300 555 3344. Appointments will either be on the phone of through digital platforms.    

Are you experiencing difficulties within your team, or does your team need support? Contact our Workplace Support Service who can offer group support to teams, particularly after a traumatic event. Email: Available 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. 


National NHS 24/7 Helpline

NHS wellbeing

Our NHS people are doing extraordinary things in the face of an extraordinary challenge, and so need an extraordinary level of support. 

This is why the NHS nationally and locally has developed a range of wellbeing support to care for and protect all of our NHS people, whether at the front line or in supporting services. 

Online peer to peer, team and personal resilience support 

#OurNHSPeople wellbeing support line 0300 131 7000 

Available from 7.00 am – 11.00 pm seven days a week, providing confidential listening from trained professionals and specialist advice - including coaching, bereavement care, mental health and financial help 

24/7 text support - text frontline to 85258. 


The Intercom Trust

We have been working hard to ensure that, during this time, there is as little disruption to our services as possible and that we continue to be available to those that need to contact us.

  • Our confidential helpline is available to you if you need to speak to us.
  • We can offer 1 - 1 continued support with one of our LGBT+ Practitioners
  • We can now offer remote counselling sessions.

Contacting our service

or call our helpline: 0800 612 3010

(if the helpline is busy, please leave a message along with your contact number and we will call you back ASAP)

or text us: 07934 251 729


Please also see a list of the NHS approved mental health helplines. 

MindEd Covid-19 Resilience Hub has launched at


Bereavement support during COVID-19

This provides a suite of compassionate resources developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement, that aim to help colleagues access support during what will be a difficult time for staff. It includes resources and support for staff and line managers.


Space to take time out


Café, Level 5, Terence Lewis Building

Discovery Library, Level 5, Terence Lewis Building - this is a 24/7 space where you are welcome to make use of the big open, calm space to decompress.  

Secret Garden for staff  - A flower garden is  

Secret flower garden

available for you to spend quiet time and reflection. It's found on level 4 by theatres and ICU. Just ask for the keys at ICU.  



Managing Anxiety

Chatty 10 - if you are socially isolated, call us for a 10-minute chat on 01752 512280 (Mon-Fri 09:00-16:00)

Managing anxiety around Covid-19 


For children - managing anxiety booklet

Some children of key workers are feeling anxious about their parents working during the pandemic so here is a booklet containing different coping strategies. The booklet is aimed at children 9+ to teens. Download the managing anxiety booklet.


Resilience, Mind and Rhythm

Colleagues may find the free course via the link below, on developing emotional resilience and increasing our ability to cope with life’s daily challenges helpful. It is made up of a series of lectures, quizzes and practical activities to help people cope with pressures and stresses that are especially heightened under the pandemic.



Coaching for leaders and managers


The practice of coaching involves the creation of a confidential thinking space to enable you to give attention to your priorities right now. The coaching conversation, guided by your coach, will give voice to your thoughts and ideas and create clarity about what you need to do.

This is a time of great challenge for our managers and leaders. Coaching offers a space to think through how to:

  • look after, support and motivate yourself and your team
  • make operational decisions and prioritise in a rapidly changing environment
  • adapt your leadership style to the needs of the moment.

If you would like to access coaching support please E:Mail: with the Subject “Covid Coaching Support” and we will respond within 24 hours. Please state what you would like coaching on and how you would like to be contacted by the coaching team

Webinar - How to navigate the pandemic 

This video discusses the psychological challenges of four stages of the crisis by wellbeing guru Prof Ivan Robertson (of RobertsonCooper). Watch the webinar - How to navigate the pandemic.


Psychological first aid training course for staff

NHS staff and volunteers are now able to access a new psychological first aid training course. The free online course will help to develop skills and confidence in providing psychological support to people affected by COVID-19, including on issues such as job worries, bereavement or isolation.

The course has been developed by Public Health England with support from NHS England and Health Education England. The course is free for all frontline workers and volunteers dealing with the public during the pandemic, and can be accessed via the social learning platform, Future Learn. No previous qualifications are required and participants will be able to access articles, videos, peer reviews, and quizzes. The course takes approximately 90 minutes to complete, with three parts which can be done in intervals or in one session. A certificate of achievement will be issued on completion of the course.

Please see the Future Learn website for more information.

Talking to children

Communicating with children about COVID-19 - A guide for key worker parents and carers when talking to children

Clinicians at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, NHS England and NHS Improvement have published some written and audio guidance for key workers, which includes advice and gui

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