Project5 pledges to support staff now and in the future
Dr Newman says: “Whilst the NHS has its own mental health response plan for staff, we hope that Project5 will free capacity and enable mental health teams to return to patient work as many have been deployed to support frontline colleagues”.
Project5, a not for profit community interest initiative, launches today offering any NHS employee affected by the impact of COVID-19 free coaching and mental health support.
The brainchild of Devon-based Clinical Psychologist, Dr Craig Newman, Project5 will give NHS staff access to one-to-one support sessions with either accredited clinical psychologists, mental health experts or coaches, via an online booking system: www.project5.org
This service meets the demands as described by Dr Shahzaib Ahmad, a Junior Doctor in Intensive Care, based in a Surrey hospital, when he talked to Channel 4 News on April 13 about the pressures of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Ahmad said, “Whilst the job has become physically more demanding, emotionally it’s been much, much harder.…. Lots of us have had moments of just random emotional release, like crying because it does take a toll on all of us”.
Dr Craig Newman said: “I wanted to create a free service for everybody who works in the NHS so anyone who feels that they need wellbeing support can access the help they need. There has been the most fantastic and heart-warming response from the mental health community, coaching and wellbeing groups all offering their services for free to support the NHS staff.”
To date there are over 4,000 registered specialists who have volunteered their time to help with this initiative, which means Project5 can potentially offer the NHS workforce over 80,000 free sessions per month. This figure is rising all the time.
Project5’s model is unique in the sense that is not just a crisis response model but, by the very nature of the models’ learning-potential and reapplication of knowledge set-up, it will soon become a recovery model and therefore highly sustainable. It will be able to support the psychological wellbeing of the NHS workforce and others caring professions beyond the immediate crisis period which we are now in.
Project5’s principles are:
Only appropriately credentialed and professionally registered professionals can be volunteers. They come from a range of backgrounds including Clinical Psychologists, psychotherapists, nurses etc.
There are clear training guidelines for the volunteers on how to work with NHS Staff, so they are up to date on identifying and handling mild or acute crisis such as self-harm or suicidal tendencies.
The volunteers are supported by supervisors and an experienced clinical psychological team that gathers evidence to understand what methods are working and what needs to be improved. Based on this, adaptations can be made quickly.
The clinical team then rapidly updates the training material and disseminates the new evidence-based information. This is immediately implemented on the front line. It is this method that allows the system to be sustainable, as the system can rapidly respond and implement the changes according to the changing needs of the end users, our NHS.
There is a high level of governance, to provide reassurance to people using Project5 – they know they’re speaking with credible, highly trained support volunteers.
“We took NHS quality methods and sustainable business principles, applying both to our model,” explained Dr Craig Newman, the CEO of Project5. “This means that we will be constantly analysing the psychological needs of the people using the system, looking at what methods are working and what isn’t and then applying this evidence-based knowledge back into the system. Our model is constantly developing offering the right support to the NHS staff, based on their needs.”
The reason the Project5 team took a sustainable approach to this issue is that they wanted to be able to respond quickly to the changing mental health needs of the NHS workforce and other carers as they work through this pandemic.
“There is always the expectation that we know how to support the psychological needs of our NHS, but the truth is, this pandemic is unlike anything we have seen before,” says Dr Craig Newman. “People talk about this being like a war, but unlike soldiers, key workers and carers are going home every night, anxious that they could potentially be infecting their loved ones. Being able to decompress and making the psychological transition between work-life and home-life has never been so stark.”
Whilst the NHS has its own mental health response plan for staff, Dr Newman hopes that Project5 will free capacity and enable mental health teams to return to patient work as many have been deployed to support frontline colleagues.
Free mental wellbeing support service is just the first of many initiatives from the Project5 team. As time passes and as NHS teams and carers are subjected to the ongoing physical and emotional challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that further projects to support various mental health needs will emerge over the coming months, both nationally and locally. To support this, Project5 launched a fundraising campaign called #HighFiveOurCarers designed to give the public an opportunity to raise money to support this initial project and any future mental health initiatives funded by Project5.
“Many of us are keen to help the NHS team in meaningful ways and supporting fundraising initiatives like this, are an opportunity for us as a nation to continue supporting our NHS in ways that can truly make a difference,” said Dr Newman.
If you are an NHS worker and would like to use this service please log on at: www.project5.org to book your slot.
If you are a wellbeing specialist and would like to volunteer with us, please log on at: www.project5.org
Please spread the word about this fundraising initiative to support our NHS via social media, with a virtual High Five ‘selfie’ and using the hashtag #HighFiveOurCarers
If you would like to do your bit to support our NHS, please donate at www.highfiveourcarers.org