The Nursing Mental Health Crisis

There’s no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a gruelling time for the healthcare industry across the globe. A recent survey by Nursing Times revealed almost two thirds of nurses feel their mental health has deteriorated since the peak of the pandemic in Spring 2020, and that national wellbeing support is not good enough.

Nine in ten nurses are feeling more stressed and anxious than usual, with a third of the 3,500 respondents saying their mental health was 'bad' or 'very bad'. The largest concerns were around the lack of PPE, contracting the virus themselves, and the health of family and friends.

A recent survey, that we ran through our Poppy Nursing social media channels, mirrored the sentiments published by the Nursing Times. The feedback showed that, of the nurses who participated, the majority found that the last 12 months had negatively impacted their mental health.

 

How can nurses reduce stress?

This National Mental Health Awareness Week (10 – 16 May) the Mental Health Foundation are encouraging people to focus on nature and reconnect with the great outdoors. They are promoting activities such as stopping to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections. For more guidance on reconnecting to nature to reduce stress visit the Mental Health Foundation website.

Mental health charity, Mind, has a range of tools specifically available to help look after your mental health as a nurse. Their top tips tailored to nurses include working through a readiness checklist to mentally prepare before a shift and they heavily advise on not skipping breaks as tempting as it can be during busy pressurised times.

Regular communication with colleagues is also encouraged to check in with your own mind as well as their feelings and wellness. Tools are available such as a Wellness Action Plan or the How are you feeling today? NHS check in sheet for a quick way to discuss how the day is going.

Nutrition and looking after your body can be easily pushed aside when caring for patients and coronavirus measures are at the forefront of your mind. But Mind’s guidance encourages you to remember hydration and to try to prepare nourishing food to have during a shift to keep you adequately fuelled. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) launched the Rest, Rehydrate, Refuel campaign to encourage nurses to practice self-care and assert their right to a break. Materials to support this campaign can be found here - Rest, Rehydrate, Refuel | Healthy Workplace | Royal College of Nursing (rcn.org.uk)

The NHS Every Mind Matters website also has a host of resources designed to help you look after your mental health Every Mind Matters | One You (www.nhs.uk)

What counselling services are available to nurses?

Mind has also partnered with other mental health charities for the first time to provide round the clock support for those who are working to fight the coronavirus. Our Frontline provides 24/7 emotional support via call or text to all workers who have been on the frontline during the pandemic, more information can be found here: Our Frontline – Mental Health At Work

Counselling services are also available through the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The service is run through the telephone and you can make an appointment by calling the RCN on 0330 818 2305. More information can be found here Counselling service | Royal College of Nursing (rcn.org.uk)

Members of the Institute of Psychoanalysis, who are all mental healthcare specialists, are volunteering their time to offer support sessions. The ‘With You in Mind’ sessions offer up to three one-hour phone or video sessions for those working within healthcare. Sessions can be booked by completing this form. There is also a series of podcasts aimed at helping healthcare professionals navigate their way through these difficult times. Click here to see episodes available and find out where you can listen.

The NHS has also launched the ‘Looking after you too’ campaign which offers individual coaching support to those on the frontline, you can register and book a coaching session here.

What additional mental health support is available to nurses?

The RCN has created a series of mindfulness videos for nursing staff. The six videos each cover a different stage of your day, from starting your day to arriving home. Each video provides practical techniques which you can put into practice - Time and space | Royal College of Nursing (rcn.org.uk)

There are also a number of free apps available for nurses:

  • The Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wellbeing App – requires you to firstly download the 87percent app via Apple or Google Play Store)
  • Sleepio App – NHS staff have been given free access to the App via this link Onboarding Sleep Test - Sleepio
  • Unmind App – to improve mental wellbeing via this link Create an account - Unmind
  • Daylight App – helps with symptoms of worry and anxiety through cognitive behavioural techniques Daylight (trydaylight.com)
  • My Possible Self mental health app – helps manage fear, anxiety and stress, tackle unhelpful thinking, record your experiences and track symptoms to better understand your mental health - My Possible Self: The Mental Health App
  • You can also browse the NHS Wellbeing apps here, the majority of which have been made free

 

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