The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak to Frontline Workers and Counsellors about Bereavement Support


Earlier this week, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge heard about the crucial mental health support being provided for frontline workers during the pandemic by Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ counselling and bereavement support line – a service supported by The Royal Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Their Royal Highnesses spoke with frontline workers and counsellors about the mental health impact of the COVID-19 crisis for those working on the frontline, and why it is vital that they are able to reach out for support at such a critical time.

Providing financial support through its COVID-19 Response Fund, The Royal Foundation has partnered with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care to help fund Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ support line, helping to make vital resources available when they are needed most to NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel. Operating between 8am-8pm, 365 days a year, Just ‘B’ 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 COVID-19, 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.

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 as part of our COVID-19 Response Fund, 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 grants have built upon and expanded the support being offered by Our Frontline, a collaborative initiative which provides free, round the clock resources for all frontline staff and key workers.

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


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