Mental health policy response during COVID-19: Support for care workers

Kaylee Knowles (Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science)

This report reviews mental health policy recommendations to support care workers during COVID-19, based on evidence from large-scale traumatic events and current response in select countries.  

Key findings:

  • The need to support care worker mental health is identified using evidence following prior large-scale traumatic events.
  • Care workers with mental health problems during COVID-19 should be identified and connected to support services as early as possible. 
  • Summary of mental health policy response to support care workers in Australia and China. 
  • Policy recommendations to support the mental health of care workers include the use of digital technologies, creating a supportive working environment, debriefing adverse events, mental health first aid training, and counselling.
  • The recovery approach may be used for care workers to continue employment or return to work with proper support.
  • Implementation challenges in mental health policy are due to the integrated nature of mental health, and traditionally-segmented nature of funding resulting in the complications related to ‘delayed pay-off’, ‘transmitted pay-off’, and ‘silo mismatch’.
  • Mental health policies must be locally tailored to the needs of care workers, which will vary according to the design of health and social care systems.

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