Nurses are like hummingbirds, taking care of their patients as they move from one branch to the next. Nurses aren’t just there to dole out meds and take calls. You can rely on them as a sounding board and patient advocate for many concerns. They are crucial to the healthcare system. Without nurses, there would be no healthcare, as they are the industry’s backbone. Unfortunately, the suicide rate among nurses and the number of nurses quitting their jobs due to mental health issues are rising. Numerous elements contribute to a nurse’s mental well-being, but this article will look at what nurses can do to reduce stress and improve their mental well-being.
Why are mental health issues more common among healthcare workers?
Even before the pandemic, healthcare professionals faced difficult working circumstances. Healthcare jobs typically include the following:
- For many medical professionals, job insecurity and financial stress are daily realities.
- Professional caretaking can be emotionally and physically taxing.
- The hours of labor are long and frequently unpredictable. This is because on-demand scheduling sometimes doesn’t know when double shifts will happen, and on-call job intensity is hard to predict.
- They are being exposed to the pain and death of others.
- Patient care is work that requires physical exertion and comes with a high risk of injury.
- Hazardous working conditions, such as exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses and taking dangerous medications, happen all the time.
- Relationships with the patient, family members, and employers put unique strains on caregivers.
In the healthcare industry, many people put the well-being of others ahead of their own. Putting on a good front seems like a commendable commitment to patients. As long as employees aren’t receiving the care they need for their health and well-being, it may be detrimental.
Healing Breaths is helping healthcare workers across the nation. Click here to speak with an expert about evidence-based stress reduction programs for nurses.
The stigma associated with mental health in the healthcare industry.
Although it would be illogical to assume that healthcare personnel are immune to mental illness and mental health problems, there is a heightened stigma associated with mental health issues in the field. On the other hand, healthcare employees are subjected to a special kind of stigma because of the enormous professional pressure they face to perform. Many U.S. state medical licensure boards conduct inquiries concerning mental health background, creating a Catch-22 for patients seeking treatment.
Evidence suggests that doctors are scared to seek assistance for a mental health condition because they fear it would hinder their ability to practice medicine or harm their professional reputation. Recent research reveals that the United States also faces higher mental health implications than citizens in other nations. According to the American Psychiatric Association, medical professionals may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after coping with the pandemic.
Treating mental health issues is paramount to the health of those who are suffering from them. Research has shown that the stigma experienced by people seeking mental health treatment is one of the driving factors behind the large percentage of mental health patients that never seek treatment. Over 47.6 million people in the United States (one in five adults) had mental illness or a co-occurring drug use disorder in 2018, and 9.2 million adults had both.
One of the most important things you can do to fight stigma is getting help. Even though stigma and perceived judgment may cause hesitance to get the support you deserve and need, seek treatment, even if you’re afraid of being diagnosed with a mental condition. Finding out what’s wrong and eliminating symptoms that interfere with your personal and professional life may help alleviate pain and discomfort.
Even while you may think it’s an indictment of your ability to handle the situation on your own, this is not the case. Being open with those struggling with mental health issues might help you build confidence and overcome self-defeating self-judgment.
Avoid alienating yourself and your struggles. A mental condition might make it difficult to discuss it with others openly. If your loved ones, clergy, or community members are aware of your mental illness, they may be able to help you. Help you. Reach out to individuals you know and trust for the support, compassion, and understanding you need. Don’t think of yourself as a disease. You are not a condition. To avoid misunderstandings, use the phrase “I have bipolar disorder,” for example, rather than the more common “I am bipolar.”
Nurses’ vulnerability to stress, burnout, and mental health issues
Recent research undertaken by Mental Health America with support from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation has shown psychological strain and anxiety among medical personnel. According to a new study, nurses struggling with their mental health are more likely to make medical mistakes on patients. The American Academy of Nursing commissioned a poll of its members, and researchers at Ohio State University found that 54% of them reported having poor physical or mental health.
Depression was a strong predictor of a nurse’s tendency to make mistakes, with a higher 26-71% error rate in this group. Nursing must radically change away from crisis response and toward mental health promotion and prevention. Workers’ psychological well-being on the job is now recognized by the World Health Organization as an “occupational phenomenon.” The symptoms of burnout include despair, anxiety, dangerous drug use, weariness, and workplace incivility.
At its most severe, the absence of system-level planning to safeguard nurses against COVID-19 and the associated secondary mental health impacts has resulted in suicides among nurses and physicians. A preventative strategy is vital to improving nurses’ health, improving patient outcomes, and reducing healthcare costs.
Mental health concerns may be alleviated with the help of a variety of self-care practices. Talk to someone you can rely on, such as a close friend, family member, or coworker, and take care of your physical well-being. Stay away from drugs, kava, alcohol, and cigarettes to deal with your emotions. If you’re having trouble coping with the stress, talk to your doctor or therapist about obtaining assistance.
Practical strategies for helping with the mental health of nursing staff
A study of 636 nurses and student nurses who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic gives insight into the mental and emotional repercussions of being on the frontlines. Only a small number of strategies have been deployed to address the mental health needs of physicians, and these strategies have not been well-reviewed. Stepped-care mental health response will better deploy resources and therapy to assist health care professionals in the pandemic and after the pandemic.
The average cost of replacing a bedside RN is $40,038, resulting in a healthcare facility’s yearly loss of $3.6 million to $6.5 million. Little study has been done on crisis leadership in nursing to help with this. It is expected that managers will witness their staff dealing with anxiety, sadness, burnout, trauma, and PTSD in the months and years ahead.
Despite the longstanding stigma, mental health issues are becoming more normalized because of the pandemic. When a manager is upfront and honest about their difficulties with mental health, workers are more likely to be open to them. There’s a warmness, realness, and accessibility that organically appears when managers open up about their struggles, mental or otherwise.
Authentic leadership has been found to foster trust and increase staff engagement and productivity. Inquire what assistance would be most beneficial and encourage the person to express their thoughts and worries. Overbearing behavior might be seen as a lack of trust or an attempt to micromanage. Your direct reports may need various things at different times. Please don’t assume that you know what they need. In the C-Suite and the workforce ranks at large, people suffer from mental health issues. Debunking prevalent stereotypes and reducing stigma are becoming more crucial as many workers experience mental health issues. Make policy and practice revisions as liberal and flexible as feasible to ease the burden on everyone. Your policies and conventions concerning flexible hours, paid time off, email, and other communications may need to be examined. Make performance reviews an opportunity to provide constructive criticism rather than an appraisal of one’s ability to meet predetermined goals. The well-being of nurses must be prioritized. More purpose-driven, substantial strides must be taken—not to mention more funding and resources allocated—to help ameliorate the impaired mental health of the nurses in need. These actions are crucial to the fortitude of the backbone of the healthcare industry.
Learn evidence-based ways to help end the mental health crisis of nurses
It has been shown that the SKY program from Healing Breaths may help with stress reduction, better sleep, and general health. In Healing Breaths’ professional development seminars, healthcare professionals and leaders teach research-based breathing methods and cognitive reframing skills. To help healthcare workers recharge, improve personal resilience, and find a shared sense of oneness, Healing Breaths delivers effective programs. Nurses can earn CE credits while learning how to prevent burnout and other wellness-driven practices.
Experience from one of Healing Breaths’ participants after taking the SKY Program.
“What I benefited most from the SKY program is the affirmation that it’s OK to care about myself and put me first…I will make the commitment to take 15 minutes out of the 1440 minutes a day for me, which will leave me 1425 minutes to care for others.” – Kimberly Kelley, Nurse Director
Learn why our SKY program is loved so much! Schedule a free consultation.