Rapid studies have highlighted the adverse mental health impact of COVID-19 on health and social care workers (HSCWs). Complementing this work, we report on the psychosocial factors that have helped HSCWs adapt to the adversities associated with COVID-19 and protect staff wellbeing in Scotland. The ENACT study collected data from HSCWs (n= 1364) in Scotland during the third national lockdown. Using a cross-sectional design, participants completed an online survey providing quantitative data and free responses. A multi-method approach to analysis was used. The majority of HSCWs were found to have low wellbeing scores, high levels of COVID-19 stress, worry, burnout and risk perception scores and almost half of HSCWs met the clinical cut off for acute stress. Adaptive coping strategies and increased perceived team resilience helped mitigate against the adverse impact that COVID-19 stressors have on HSCWs’ mental wellbeing. HSCWs were significantly more likely to seek informal support for dealing with personal or emotional problems. Barriers to formal help-seeking were identified including stigma and fears of consequence of disclosure. HSCWs most valued peer support, workplace supports, visible leadership and teamwork. Our findings illuminate the complexity of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on HSCWs’ wellbeing and will inform future intervention development to increase positive adaptation amongst staff. Addressing barriers to mental health help-seeking among HSCWs is essential. The implications emphasise the importance of lessons learned across health and social care contexts, planning and preparedness for future pandemics.
Background: Rapid studies published during the COVID-19 pandemic have reported that the mental wellbeing of health and social care workers (HSCWs) has been adversely impacted. Research has yet to explore what specific factors relating to the pandemic are having a detrimental impact on HSCW's mental wellbeing and what may help mitigate such adversities.