On Wednesday 13 January, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge heard about the crucial mental health support being provided for frontline workers during the pandemic by Hospice UK’s Just 'B' support line.
Their Royal Highnesses spoke with frontline workers and Just 'B' support workers about the mental health impact of the COVID-19 crisis for those working on the frontline, and why it is vital that they are able to reach out for support at such a critical time.
Providing financial support through its COVID-19 Response Fund, The Royal Foundation has partnered with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care to help fund Hospice UK’s Just 'B' support line, helping to make vital resources available when they are needed most to NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel.
Operating between 8am-8pm, 365 days a year, Just 'B' provides confidential, free to access bereavement and wellbeing support related to anxiety, trauma and the impact of encountering a significant number of deaths, in addition to support for personal bereavement and loss.
Mortality rates in both hospitals and the community have risen significantly across the past year as a result of COVID-19, causing many health and social care professionals and emergency responders to deal with levels of death they will not have experienced at any other time during their careers.
Just 'B' support workers Tony Collins and Caroline Francis spoke to The Duke and Duchess about the toll that the pandemic is having on frontline staff, with service users often citing exhaustion and the relentless nature of the crisis as their reasons for calling.
During the call, NHS staff and emergency responders spoke about their personal experiences with mental health, and how services such as Just 'B' have allowed them to cope better and begin to come to terms with their grief.
They also acknowledged the need to continue to encourage frontline workers to utilise mental health resources, with stigma preventing staff from seeking support for themselves during such a busy period for health and social care providers and the emergency services.
Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK, said: "As death rates from COVID-19 continue to increase, many healthcare professionals and emergency responders are dealing with extraordinary levels of suffering that they have just not witnessed before. This will take a toll on these dedicated professionals’ mental health and wellbeing, now and for years to come.
"For them, the free Hospice UK Just 'B' line offers a vital means of support, providing frontline workers with someone to talk to about wellbeing, bereavement, trauma and mental health as they continue to work through the pandemic.
"The team were honoured to be able to talk to The Duke and Duchess about Just 'B'. With their support, we hope more frontline workers will know there is somewhere they can turn to as they continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19."
The Just 'B' helpline can be accessed daily between 8am and 8pm at 0300 303 4434.