The psychological workforce must be supported after experiencing an ‘emotional rollercoaster’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
The report, which draws upon the experiences of more than 200 psychologists and trainees, highlights the impact of the pandemic on psychologists, their work and their well-being. It identifies 10 key themes to emerge including an increased workload, personal anxiety, moral and professional dilemmas, and adapting to remote working. It also explores ways in which the pandemic has opened up opportunities for psychology and psychologists to play a leading role, for instance influencing policy and changing conversations around mental health.
Dr Adrian Neal, Co-Chair of the Division of Clinical Psychology’s Leadership and Management Faculty and Co-Chair of the BPS COVID-19 Well-being Working Group, said: ‘As a profession, psychology has made a significant contribution to the UK’s response to COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so. The pandemic has also resulted in personal and professional challenges to psychologists that may impact the wellbeing of our profession and on us as individuals.
‘We must remember that psychologists themselves are human and have not been immune to the impact of the pandemic. We must endeavour to promote systemic and individual wellbeing for psychologists and ensure we are best prepared for the future.’
Sarb Bajwa, chief executive of the BPS, said: ‘With this report, we aimed to produce a practical, accessible document that can be used to encourage conversations about wellbeing in our profession. As we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic, and the impact it is having on all our lives, we must ensure our psychological workforce is ready and supported to play their crucial role.’
Some of the themes in the report, based on the personal experiences from psychologists include:
- Personal anxiety and uncertainty. ‘There is pressure as others view psychologists as people who should be able to cope, but psychologists can be vulnerable to stress too.’
- Increased workload demands. ‘The unsustainable demands on staff are bringing them close to breaking point (mentally and physically) – We are anxious that it cannot continue like this and there are fears that colleagues’ mental health will collapse next year.’
- Lack of preparation. ‘There were a lot of knee-jerk reactions, mixed messages and guidance being sent out that quickly changed, this increased anxiety.’
- Ethical, moral and professional dilemmas. ‘It became increasingly frustrating and demoralising to see the waiting list grow and to not know when we could return to face to face work.’
- Changing conversations about mental health and well-being. ‘Humans beings are social animals and our attachments to others are central to our well-being. This pandemic was hard on many people who felt isolated from supports when they needed it most.’