Efforts have been made to adapt the delivery of mental health care and support services to the demands of COVID-19. Here we detail the perspectives and experiences of mental health workers (MHWs), in relation to what they found helpful when adapting mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to its demands. Individual interviews were conducted with MHWs (n = 30) during the third COVID-19 lockdown. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and managed using NVIVO. Qualitative data was analyzed using an inductive thematic approach. Three themes emphasized the importance of: (1) 'self-care and peer support (checking in with each other)', (2) 'team cohesion and collaboration' and (3) 'visible and supportive management and leadership (new ways of working)'. Our findings emphasize the importance of individual, team and systems-based support in helping MHWs maintain their own wellbeing, whilst adapting and responding to the challenges in providing mental health care and support during this pandemic. Guidance and direction from management, with adaptive leadership in providing sustained, efficient, and equitable delivery of mental healthcare, is essential. Our findings support future policy, research and mental health practice developments through sharing important salutogenic lessons learned and transferable insights which may help with preparedness for future pandemics.


Accepted author manuscript restricted to University of Strathclyde repository staff until 7th April 2023.

Cite as

Cogan, N., Archbold, H., Deakin, K., Griffith, B., Sáez Berruga, I., Smith, S., Tanner, G. & Flowers, P. 2022, 'What have we learned about what works in sustaining mental health care and support services during a pandemic? Transferable insights from the COVID-19 response within the NHS Scottish context', International Journal of Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207411.2022.2056386

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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