18th May 2020

Technology Coronavirus: Mental health of NHS workers focus of new project

Technology Coronavirus: Mental health of NHS workers focus of new project


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A new app could monitor workers’ mood and anxiety levels

Researchers aim to use digital technology to offer mental health support to NHS workers on the front line of dealing with Covid-19.

The team at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) are developing an app that could be used by workers to monitor their mood and anxiety levels.

It could also access helpful activities, such as exercises.

Feedback and support could also be sent via the app.

The six-month project has been awarded £44,581 funding and NHS Highland practitioners are also involved in the initiative.

Technology ‘Psychological toll’

Dr Johannes De Kock, a digital health research fellow and clinical psychologist at UHI, said previous pandemics such as Sars had a “psychological toll” on health and social care workers.

He said: “Research conducted in other countries during the Covid-19 outbreak suggests that roughly half of the front line workforce will experience a diagnosable anxiety or mood disorder.

“As the pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, we know that Scotland’s health and care workforce may face similar distress.”

He said the workers could suffer from working closely with people dying from the infection, and may be feeling the stress of fears they could spread it to their own families.

He said digital technology could help “prevent and treat” psychological distress.

Technology ‘Loved ones’

Dr Sarah-Anne Munoz, who leads UHI’s division of rural health and wellbeing, added: “Health professionals in rural areas frequently work in small teams or as lone practitioners.

“They are often embedded in local communities and will inevitably be providing care for their friends, neighbours and loved ones.

“It’s important to understand how we can best support these staff through the current crisis and with any longer-term impacts on their mental wellbeing.”

Prof Stephen Leslie, a consultant cardiologist at NHS Highland and a member of the project team, said the app could offer support long term.

He said: “This may help staff, not just during the Covid pandemic, but through other challenging times in the future.”


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