Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge hear of support on offer to frontline staff during pandemic

Duke and Duchess

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spoken to NHS and emergency workers about the mental health support available to frontline workers during the pandemic - Credit: Kensington Palace

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge have spoken to frontline workers about the importance of mental health support for those dealing with the pandemic.

In a video call from their Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, the royals spoke to NHS staff and counsellors and heard of the crucial support being provided by Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ counselling and bereavement support line.

Providing financial support through its Covid-19 response Fund, The Royal Foundation has partnered with NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care to help fund the service.

Just ‘B’ supports NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel.

Operating between 8am and 8pm, 365 days a year, it provides confidential, free to access bereavement and wellbeing support related to anxiety, trauma and the impact of encountering a significant number of deaths, in addition to support for personal bereavement and loss.

Mortality rates in both hospitals and the community have risen significantly across the past year as a result of the pandemic, causing many health and social care professionals and emergency responders to deal with levels of death they will not have experienced at any other time during their careers.

Just ‘B’ counsellors Tony Collins and Caroline Francis spoke to the Duke and Duchess about the toll that the pandemic is having on frontline staff, with service users often citing exhaustion and the relentless nature of the crisis as their reasons for calling.

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During the call, NHS staff and emergency responders spoke about their personal experiences with mental health, and how services such as Just ‘B’ have allowed them to cope better and begin to come to terms with their grief.

They also acknowledged the need to continue to encourage frontline workers to utilise mental health resources, with stigma preventing staff from seeking support for themselves during such a busy period for health and social care providers and the emergency services. 

The Royal Foundation’s support for Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ service, was announced in July 2020. It forms part of a series of grants made to leading mental health charities to increase their capacity for helpline and chat services to meet rising demands as a consequence of the pandemic.

The Just ‘B’ counselling and trauma helpline can be accessed daily between 8am and 8pm at 0300 303 4434.