The pandemic was a whirlwind for many nursing staff! Working on the frontline has certainly had its challenges, though the commitment and hard work from healthcare professionals has not gone unnoticed. As Covid-19 shut down the entire global economy, the importance of our healthcare system was acutely highlighted and it’s been a fantastic opportunity for staff to demonstrate how intrinsically important their role is in society. Many nurses have thrived during the sector’s response to the pandemic, rising to challenges in an atmosphere of increased team cohesion. Though many have experienced high levels of stress as the pandemic placed the NHS under extreme pressure.
As a nurse you naturally prioritise caring for your patients, but this can often lead to self-care being overlooked or in some instances, simply not catered for enough by your employer. Support for healthcare staff is important and even more so throughout the pandemic. Though some nursing professionals may be unsure about how to access care provision and others may not be aware of the current support services provided by their employers. We have put together a guide to raise awareness on what mental health resources are available, so that you can continue to love what you do whilst prioritising your own wellbeing, not just your patients!
Causes of a rise in mental health concerns amongst nurses
The pandemic has caused a significant amount of upheaval in the nursing profession, as many NHS staff have experienced changes to their work patterns and roles. It has also been a bit of a juggling act between personal and professional commitments, as the risk of infection or infecting others around them has been something to constantly consider. Other examples of sources of stress for nurses working in the healthcare sector during the pandemic are:
Often primary contact for the patient and relatives due to restrictions
High levels of individual responsibility
Catching the virus and passing it on to patients, or taking it home and passing it to older or vulnerable relatives
Childcare complications during total lockdown due to school closures or children needing to self-isolate from classmates
Having to wear PPE through long shifts
Staff shortages amid increased demand
Fear of potential third wave during winter when pressure on NHS is already high due to seasonal illnesses like flu
Backlog of care
The pandemic has also accelerated the healthcare sector’s evolution, resulting in shifts in the provision of care. New, innovative tech is transforming the way patients are treated and although this is incredibly exciting, healthcare staff are constantly required to learn week by week and adapt to their changing landscape.
Current mental health services available for nursing staff
Naturally, mental health should be prioritised as much as physical health and there are several simple methods that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine that can promote a healthy mind. For example, it goes without saying that it’s important for nurses to remember to stay hydrated and maintain healthy eating and sleeping patterns to ensure they remain at the top of their game and able to provide exceptional patient care daily.
Although the physical aspect of self-care may come more naturally, taking care of your mind and your mental health should not be overlooked. Whether you work part-time, full-time or on a contract basis, nurses should take advantage of the resources available to them, which include:
A group of nurses and midwives have set up a charity with the aim of providing nurses the support they need in times of stress. They operate a listening service Monday – Friday 7pm – 11pm and are on a mission to promote awareness around mental and emotional wellbeing in the healthcare sector.
Contact: 0808 801 0455
With You in Mind: Consultations in a Crisis
Members of the Institute of Psychoanalysis, who are mental healthcare specialists, are volunteering their time to offer up to three one-hour phone or video support sessions. Whether you’d like to discuss professional or personal matters, or your situation at work, they want to help! They also offer a series of podcasts aimed at helping healthcare staff navigate their way through difficult times.
Mind’s frontline 24/7 emotional support service is a combination of 1-2-1 support and online resources for healthcare staff to make sure they’re putting their mental health first. Volunteers from charities such as Mind, Hospice UK and the Samaritans also signpost staff to services including practical and financial assistance, as well as specialist bereavement support.
Phone line: 0300 131 7000
Text helpline: 85258
RCN counselling service
Royal College of Nursing is offering its members free, confidential support to help them deal with challenging, emotional issues they may face at work or at home. RCN’s counselling service provides brief therapy over the phone with experienced, highly qualified and accredited counsellors from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Free health and wellbeing resources and support offers from NHS
Nurses can access the following health and wellbeing resources for free:
Acknowledging that nurses need dedicated resources to protect their mental health is just the start and needs to be followed up by investment in the future. When difficulties or concerns arise it is essential that nurses are supported in a positive way, so that they continue to uphold the high standards of care they provide to their patients every day.
If you are a nurse who has worked throughout the pandemic, how do you think you could have been better supported? Have you experienced any specific frustrations that you think could have been handled better?
If you have any further questions about mental health support available to nurses or any concerns, we would be happy to talk to you about it! We would also be interested to hear your feedback with regards to the services we provide, whether we can add anything you would consider useful, or if you have any topics you would like to know more about, please get in touch.