Background Health and social care workers (HSCWs) are at risk of experiencing adverse mental health outcomes (e.g. higher levels of anxiety and depression) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This can have a detrimental effect on quality of care, the national response to the pandemic and its aftermath. Aims A longitudinal design provided follow-up evidence on the mental health (changes in prevalence of disease over time) of NHS staff working at a remote health board in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic, and investigated the determinants of mental health outcomes over time. Method A two-wave longitudinal study was conducted from July to September 2020. Participants self-reported levels of depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7) and mental well-being (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale) at baseline and 1.5 months later. Results The analytic sample of 169 participants, working in community (43%) and hospital (44%) settings, reported substantial levels of depression and anxiety, and low mental well-being at baseline (depression, 30.8%; anxiety, 20.1%; well-being, 31.9%). Although mental health remained mostly constant over time, the proportion of participants meeting the threshold for anxiety increased to 27.2% at follow-up. Multivariable modelling indicated that working with, and disruption because of, COVID-19 were associated with adverse mental health changes over time. Conclusions HSCWs working in a remote area with low COVID-19 prevalence reported substantial levels of anxiety and depression, similar to those working in areas with high COVID-19 prevalence. Efforts to support HSCW mental health must remain a priority, and should minimise the adverse effects of working with, and disruption caused by, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2022.
- Mental health
- National health service
- risk factors