Work-related experiences of mental health professionals during COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study
The imposition of nation-wide lockdowns and sporadic transition to remote work produced unforeseen psychological challenges likely to impact the medium of care and workload of mental health professionals. The present study explored the lived occupational experiences of clinical psychologists, counsellors, and psychotherapists working in the National Health Service (NHS) and private practice in the UK during COVID-19 pandemic. Nineteen professionals (11 employed in the NHS and 8 working in independent settings) were interviewed about their professional experiences during first and second waves of the pandemic. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three main themes emerged from the analysis: (i) transition from face to face to online therapy; (ii) novel changes and wellbeing; and (iii) uncertain professional support in uncertain times. The findings suggest that lack of experience in providing online or telephonic psychotherapeutic services from home negatively impacted professionals’ physical and psychological health and wellbeing. Thus, to cope with it, they availed psychological and structural support from colleagues, co-workers, clinical supervisors, managers, organisations, and professional bodies. This study adds to the existing body of research on the impact of the pandemic on UK-based mental health professionals and from an applied perspective, it highlights the need for skill-upgradation of professionals.
Author affiliationSchool of Business, University of Leicester
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