There is mounting evidence that working in the NHS is very stressful. To reduce the effects of stress on the health and functioning of hospital staff, counselling services have been introduced, but seldom evaluated. This study evaluates the outcome of such a service for the first 100 staff seen. The most frequent problems were work induced stress, depression, anxiety and relationship problems. Most staff were seen for three or fewer sessions, with 50 per cent requiring no further help. Most perceived the sessions as very helpful, both immediately and six months later. Significant improvements were found in self‐reported anxiety, depression, satisfaction with self and life outside work and functioning at work and outside. These were maintained at six months follow‐up, although functioning outside work was no longer significantly improved. Problems of evaluation of this kind of counselling service are addressed, with suggestions about establishing a control group.
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