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Hospital chaplain urges Christians to pray for NHS staff amid warnings of severe mental health strain

The head of chaplaincy and spiritual care at St George's University Hospitals in London has urged Christians to pray for "resilience, for strength and to get through the day-by-day tasks" as a new report reveals a number of frontline workers are battling with mental health issues.

The study by King's College London has found health care staff working through the pandemic are likely to be suffering from problem drinking, severe anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Speaking to Premier, Rev Chris van D'Arque said the results of the report are understandable as responsibilities have extended beyond the patients themselves. 

"There is no surprise for those of us who are serving and caring for patients and loved ones". 

He said the job now involves "liaising with the loved ones back at home, and sometimes facilitating them coming in to say farewell to their loved ones on the wards and the intensive care units. It's not a shock."

Of those taking part on the study, one in eight reported having frequent thoughts of being "better off dead" or hurting themselves. Rev Chris said his workload has increased both in caring for staff as well as patients' families.

"The big thing is that churches closed first time around, I know they're open now, but for us who are here in the NHS, our patients - our congregation so to speak - never went anywhere, they just increased in number. 

"It wasn't just that our workload increased, but multiplied because we were having to do the patient-facing care and the care for the loved one separately. So, we are where the staff are, we are where the patients are."

Rev Chris went on to say that prayer for peace is also needed. 

"[Pray] for that quality of peace that's beyond our ability to understand because what are seeing in here, we can never forget. And give thanks as well because it's our camaraderie, our support for one another, that is carrying us through...and we are in it to win it."

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