A free mental health support scheme for NHS workers is to be extended to social care workers in Wales.
From today, Canopi, which is run by Cardiff University, will open up its confidential and personalised service of support and advice to social care staff, including frontline social care workers, personal assistants, and administrative and managerial staff.
Social care and NHS staff will be able to access a confidential service staffed by healthcare professionals and face-to-face counselling sessions, self-help resources and virtual therapy sessions.
Funded by Welsh Government, who will provide £1.5m per year until 2025, the Canopi team has recruited additional therapists to support the expansion.
Professor Jon Bisson, Director of Canopi, said: “The last two years has been an extremely challenging time for people working in health and social care. We’re delighted to now be able to expand our service to include staff employed by social care organisations in Wales so they can access the same mental health and wellbeing support as staff working for the NHS in Wales.
“Canopi offers a confidential and welcoming space for staff to access various levels of mental health support, including self-help, guided self-help, peer support, and virtual face-to-face therapies with accredited specialists.”
Previously known as Health for Health Professionals Wales (HHP Wales), the service, set up and run by Cardiff University, has been rebranded to encompass the health and social care sectors.
While known as HHP Wales, the service supported 800 doctors from across Wales between 2012 and 2020. It was further extended in 2020 to offer mental health support to all staff working in the NHS in Wales tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and has since supported 2,300 people.
Geraint Jones, an advanced pharmacist in HIV and homecare, contacted the service in October 2020 while adjusting to living with long Covid which was taking a huge toll on his life.
“I sought support through Canopi predominantly out of desperation and not knowing who to turn to for help,” he said.
“I was assigned a therapist who led me through sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The strategies we spoke through were very simple and never used too much mental ability, which I appreciated as some days I was completely lacking in this.
“I cannot thank the Canopi team enough for guiding me through some very difficult times when nobody else understood my worries and concerns.”
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle said: “Frontline staff across our NHS and social care services have been incredible throughout the pandemic attending to the physical and mental health of those in need. We must ensure their own mental health and wellbeing is being supported.
“Feedback we have received from those who have used the service already has been very positive. I hope our continued funding of the service will ensure more people get the support they need. I am delighted that dedicated provision for those working in social care has now been launched to deliver tailored advice and support for those working in this vital sector.”
The 9am-5pm service can be accessed through canopi.nhs.wales, where a self-referral form can be completed.
If you would be interested in volunteering or working for the service, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org