Key workers suffer mental health impact of Covid pandemic

18 May 2021

Dyfed Powys Police Federation’s wellbeing lead Dai Gaskins says he’s “shocked and saddened” that more than three quarters of key workers say their mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The figures were released by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, which ended on Sunday (16 May).

They reveal that 76 per cent of key workers – including police officers – say their mental health has suffered during the coronavirus crisis, higher than the national figure of 75 per cent.

The most common reason for the pandemic having a negative impact on the mental health of key workers was being separated from or unable to see friends, family or romantic partners (60 per cent).

More than half (52 per cent) said the reason was increased stress or difficulties at work due to the pandemic. This is significantly higher than those who are in work but who are not key workers (35 per cent).

Other common reasons for key workers saying the pandemic had negatively impacted their mental health were anxiety or concern about friends or family members catching coronavirus (55 per cent); feeling isolated (45 per cent) and anxiety or concern about catching coronavirus themselves (38 per cent).

And 60 per cent of key workers agreed their job has become more stressful because of the pandemic, compared to 37 per cent of non-key workers across the UK.

Dai said: “I am shocked that 76 per cent of key workers say their mental health has been hit during the pandemic – it’s a huge figure.

“Our members have been on the frontline policing this pandemic with the risk of bringing the virus home to loved ones and even having it weaponised against them.

“They’re all human beings and will have personal worries to contend with as well, so it is saddening that they have been suffering.”

Other figures from the BACP survey, which was conducted by YouGov, show that since the start of the pandemic:

  • 53 per cent of key workers are feeling more anxious
  • 42 per cent of key workers are having more trouble sleeping
  • 55 per cent of key workers are feeling more stressed or overwhelmed
  • And 42 per cent of key workers are feeling more depressed and hopeless.

Dai added: “We would encourage members to look out for their colleagues and if any of our members are struggling, they’re not alone. The Federation is here to support you.”

Kris Ambler, BACP’s workforce lead, said: “Millions of key workers have been dealing with some incredibly stressful and unusual circumstances.

“They may also have other things happening in their life such as a bereavement or relationship problems.

“Talking to a counsellor can help to identify and address problems early, alleviate the psychological impact of negative situations and keep our key workers working effectively and productively,” he added.

The Federation’s Welfare Support Programme provides independent and confidential support to members and access to fully trained and accredited professionals.

Contact the Federation office or your workplace representative if you need support.