The leading mental health charities are uniting for the first time to provide round the clock mental health support to those working on the frontline against the Coronavirus. Mind, Samaritans, Shout, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation have launched Our Frontline, a combination of 1-2-1 support and online resources for NHS workers, carers, the blue light emergency services and key workers who are putting their mental health under pressure, while many of us do our bit by staying at home.
At a time when face to face contact is limited, Our Frontline (ourfrontline.org) brings together a number of services to provide important workers with round the clock 1-2-1 support. Frontline staff and keyworkers can call or text a trained volunteer and access specially developed online resources, toolkits and advice to support their mental health and emotional wellbeing through this challenging time.
The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is formally supporting Our Frontline and helping to ensure that frontline staff and key workers in need of help are aware that the services are available. The Foundation has a long history of raising awareness of the importance of mental health and played a leading role in creating Shout and the Mental Health at Work programme, both of which are key elements of the Our Frontline initiative.
The Duke of Cambridge chaired a roundtable call with representatives from the emergency services sector and the NHS on the eve of the Our Frontline launch, in which he heard more about the mental health challenges impacting keyworkers in the UK, and how Our Frontline can support them. Those on the call included NHS England and NHS Improvement, Faculty of Pre Hospital Care – Royal College of Surgeons, Mind, Lifelines Scotland, Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, National Police Chiefs’ Council, The Fire Fighters Charity, Police Care UK and The Ambulance Staff Charity.
His Royal Highness said of Our Frontline, “Over the past few weeks, millions of frontline workers across the UK have put their physical and mental health on the line to protect us all during the Coronavirus pandemic. Every day they confront traumatic situations at the same time as having to contend with their own worries about the risks to themselves and their families. That takes a real toll, and as I’ve seen for myself through my work with the air ambulance, without the right support at the right time the challenges they face will only be greater. Catherine and I, together with The Royal Foundation, will do all we can to support Our Frontline. This work will be our top priority for the months ahead.”
Mind, Samaritans, Shout and Hospice UK will be working with employers, charities and representative groups to support key workers now and during the months ahead to make sure we look after and then rebuild the mental health of our frontline workers, alongside our economy and society.
Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, said, “Mind is delighted to be involved in Our Frontline – providing support for our hardworking key workers. Every day, those working in health and social care, 999 services and other vital roles – staff working in supermarkets, pharmacies, transport, catering and cleaning, to name a few – face huge challenges to their physical and mental health. That’s why it’s so important they can easily access information and contact trained advisors to help promote good mental health, any time of day or night.”
Ruth Sutherland, CEO of Samaritans, said, “As a former NHS nurse myself, I am so proud that we are able to work with some of the UK’s leading organisations to support our key workers and their mental health. Our trained volunteers are a listening ear for anyone, especially those who are putting their mental health under immense short and long-term pressure to provide our frontline against Coronavirus.”
Victoria Hornby, CEO of Mental Health Innovations, which runs Shout, said, “Millions of people across the UK are pulling together to form Our Frontline and we’ve joined together as charities to support the mental health of all of these essential workers. By combining our services, we can provide a single place for our frontline to go for support if they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or struggling to manage their mental health for another reason, such as the loss of a colleague or loved one. Shout Crisis Volunteers are incredibly proud to be able to listen to and talk to key workers through a confidential text conversation, whenever and wherever they need our support.”
Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK, said, “Hospice UK is committed to doing all it can to help those who are keeping us all safe and well. Our Dying Matters campaign has many resources to help people deal with grief and death, and we’re putting all we know into Our Frontline so that nobody doing an essential job feels that they have to go through this alone.”