Mental health support for COVID-19 patients

National network to ensure long-term recovery.

People who have been hospitalised with coronavirus (COVID-19) will have access to a new national peer support network to help their recovery and rehabilitation.

Backed by almost £200,000 Scottish Government funding, the charity ICU Steps will connect ICU survivors and their families across Scotland to facilitate patient-led support groups, as well as offering a range of wellbeing resources to help with recovery.

It follows the publication of a report showing up to one-third of patients admitted to hospital developed serious mental health consequences, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and cognitive problems.

In addition to the expansion of peer support, the report, produced by psychiatrist Dr Nadine Cossette, made a number of other recommendations which will be taken forward, through consultation with health boards. These include a network of mental health clinicians across Scotland, and a personalised digital platform.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said:

“We know that treatment in Intensive Care and High Dependency Units can be particularly difficult for patients. This has been exacerbated in recent times by the fact that families have not been able to visit their loved ones.

“Most will go on to make a full recovery, but for others there is a higher risk of developing mental health issues.

“We welcome the report by Dr Nadine Cossette which sets out a number of actions to improve mental health and wellbeing of patients.  The creation of a national peer support network, led by patients, will be a significant first step to ensuring that services supporting those who have been affected are well placed to respond.

“We will now consult with health boards on how best to implement these proposals locally to ensure that people have the right support throughout their recovery from COVID-19.”

Dr Nadine Cossette said:

“Mental health care is crucially important to patients recovering from COVID-19. I am pleased the Scottish Government has recognised this and I look forward to ensuring patients and families across Scotland have access to good mental health care that is well integrated with physical health recovery services.”

Chair of ICU Steps George Guy said:

“As an ICU survivor myself I am well aware of the physical and mental problems that patients can be left with. ICU Steps gives survivors the chance to talk to others who have gone through what they have and we have found this to be very helpful. We offer empathy not sympathy. I’d like to thank Dr Pam Ramsay of Dundee University, Dr Stephen Cole NHS Tayside and Chair of Scottish Intensive Care Society, and Peter Gibb, CEO and founder of ICU Steps, for their invaluable help with this project.”


The Scottish Government commissioned Dr Nadine Cossette, a liaison psychiatrist from the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, to examine mental health needs of patients hospitalised due to COVID-19. 

Dr Cossette will now chair a short life working group tasked with implementing the recommendations in her report including establishing a network of COVID mental health clinicians across Scotland, working within bespoke, multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams supported by a national network.


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