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86% of frontline workers in Scotland experienced worsening mental health due to the pandemic

© Jane Barlow/PA WireFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon stands outside St Andrew's House in Edinburgh to observe a minute's silence in tribute to the NHS staff and key workers who have died during the coronavirus outbreak.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stands outside St Andrew's House in Edinburgh to observe a minute's silence in tribute to the NHS staff and key workers who have died during the coronavirus outbreak.

Thousands of Scotland’s frontline workers have revealed they have had worsening mental health since the pandemic began.

Figures released by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) show that 86% of frontline workers, and 90% of those working in the retail sector experienced increased feelings of stress and anxiety.

Younger people aged between 25-34 have been the worst hit, according to the figures.

As a result, SAMH are offering a lifeline of mental health support to those affected, in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), Living Life to the Full (LLTTF) and funded by Foundation Scotland’s Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund, supported by the National Emergencies Trust.

Any workers feeling burnt out, including bus drivers, supermarket workers and social care staff will be able to access Time for You – a free service offering immediate access to three different levels of mental health support.

They range from self-help resources, to talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy with trainee psychologists from GCU.

Fiona Benton, Assistant Director of Delivery and Development at SAMH, said: “Frontline workers have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, and it’s extremely worrying to discover so many are struggling.

“While carrying out some of the most important jobs to keep our local communities going, many have experienced high levels of anxiety and stress, not to mention the worry for the safety of themselves, their loved ones, and the people they help within their roles.

“Add to that the pressure many frontline workers were experiencing even before lockdown, and it became clear to us that it has never been more important that frontline workers get the mental health support they need and deserve.

“We know from the research that frontline workers feel they would benefit from help such as talking therapies like cognitive behaviour therapy and access to self-help resources, so we hope that Time for You will be a valuable resource for many people.

“We urge anyone who is struggling to reach out and take the first step – it’s ok to not be ok.”

Time for You is not just for those who are classed as key workers, but also for those who have been required to continue to work throughout the pandemic to keep the nation running, such as those providing the nation’s supply, logistics, retail and public transport.

The service will be able to support up to 4,000 people.

Vickie Fyfe, Service Manager at Time for You, said they are already seeing a positive impact: “Many people who connect with us are in a really low place and are not sure where to turn – whether that be due to not knowing who to speak to, worried about the stigma of speaking about their mental health in the workplace, or because they think the problems they are experiencing are not big enough to bother others with.

“The Time for You service is for anyone who is struggling with their mental health – and with three levels of support available, we are able to find the right level of support for each person.

“It’s been overwhelming to see the difference we’re making so far, and I hope we can reach many more people over the coming months.”

samh.org.uk/timeforyou