A service evaluation of phased- and stepped-care psychological support for health and social care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Charles L. Cole, Charlotte Barry, Rob Saunders, Jo Billings, Joshua Stott, Joshua E.J. Buckman, Talya Greene, Mirko Cirkovik, Stephen Pilling, Jon Wheatley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally affected the mental health of health and social care workers (HSCWs), with many experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological interventions have been offered via mental health services and in-house psychology teams, but their effectiveness in this context is not well documented. Aims To evaluate a stepped-care psychological support pathway for HSCWs from Homerton Healthcare Foundation Trust in London, which offered psychological first aid, evidence-based psychological therapies and group-based well-being workshops. Method The service evaluation used a pre-post approach to assess depression, anxiety, functional impairment and post-traumatic stress disorder symptom change for those who attended sessions of psychological first aid, low- or high-intensity cognitive-behavioural therapy or a combination of these. In addition, the acceptability of the psychological first aid sessions and well-being workshops was explored via feedback data. Results Across all interventions, statistically significant reductions of depression (d = 1.33), anxiety (d = 1.37) and functional impairment (d = 0.93) were observed, and these reductions were equivalent between the interventions, as well as the demographic and occupational differences between the HSCWs (ethnicity, staff group and redeployment status). HSCWs were highly satisfied with the psychological first aid and well-being workshops. Conclusions The evaluation supports the utility of evidence-based interventions delivered as part of a stepped-care pathway for HSCWs with common mental health problems in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the novel integration of psychological first aid within the stepped-care model as a step one intervention, replication and further testing in larger-scale studies is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere95
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 25 May 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2023.


  • Primary care
  • cognitive-behavioural therapies
  • common mental disorders
  • psychosocial interventions
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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