“People are just firefighting and coping with it, until they’re not”:
Qualitative insights into barriers to staff seeking support before they
reach crisis in an NHS Trust.
Abstract Introduction NHS staff face mental health problems due factors
including burnout, workload, exposure to trauma and lack of support.
Healthcare professionals often face barriers to seeking help and are
less likely to seek out professional help for their own mental health.
Following staff suicides, this study aimed to identify the perceived
barriers to seeking support faced by staff members across an NHS Trust.
Methods Semi-structured interviews with 29 participants, each lasting
approximately 90 minutes. A further 10 informal conversations were had
with staff not wanting to be formally interviewed. Results Framework
analysis was used to analyse the data, resulting in four themes being
identified around perceived barriers to seeking support: stigma
organisational culture privacy access to support Discussion Findings
indicated that staff perceived significant barriers, including mental
illness-related stigma, workplace trauma, organisational culture,
confidentiality concerns and access to support. Many staff members who
needed to help did not reach out for support within the workplace,
despite knowing they needed it. Conclusion There are perceived barriers
to seeking help affect both the individual and the culture of the
organisation. Larger studies are needed to assess the perceived barriers
experienced by staff nationwide, with the aim of tackling these to
improve staff wellbeing.