Coping, dealing with stress and adapting to the 'new norm': a qualitative analysis of the narratives of mental health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Nicola Cogan, Karen Deakin, Heather Archbold, Bethany Griffith, Samantha Smith, Isabel Saez Berruga, Gary Tanner

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

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Objectives: Rapid research has reported that the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures has had adverse mental health effects in previously healthy people and especially in people with pre-existing mental health problems. Efforts have been made to adapt the delivery of mental health care to the demands of COVID-19. Yet, little research has considered the impact on mental health workers (MHWs).Design: Qualitative research design based on semi‐structured in‐depth, online interviews.Method: One to one interviews were conducted with MHWs (N = 25) working on the frontline of mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and managed using NVIVO. Qualitative data was analysed using an inductive thematic approach.
Expected results: Preliminary analysis suggested the following themes: (1) 'adaptive coping strategies', (2) 'peer support' and (3) 'increased perceived team resilience' helped mitigate against the adverse impact that COVID-19 related stressors have on MHW's mental wellbeing. (4) 'Visible and supportive leadership' was also found to be essential in helping staff gain access to current and accurate information on COVID-19 and in helping workers adapt to constant change.
Current stage of work: Data collection began in December 2020 and data collection and analysis is due for completion in June 2021. Conclusions: The implications of these findings are discussed at both the individual and organisational level, emphasising the importance of both peer and team-based support in alleviating the negative impact that COVID-19 has on MHW's mental wellbeing. The importance of supervision and leadership is highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2021
EventBritish Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference 2021 - Online
Duration: 29 Jun 202130 Jun 2021


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleDHP 2021
Internet address


  • COVID-19 infection
  • mental health
  • well-being

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