The prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt through renewed spikes in many U. S. states, pushing hospitals to capacity.
For nurses on the frontlines, it can be difficult to see the devastation continue despite their efforts. Months of uncertainty have negatively affected the mental health of many nurses.
How Critical Is Nurses' State of Mental Health?
A Nursing Times survey reveals that almost all nursing staff are feeling "more stressed and anxious than usual, with a third describing the state of their mental health as bad during the COVID-19 crisis [itself]."
One anonymous respondent called for more backing now as well as down the road. "Far more support is needed for everyone involved in this situation, not only now while it is happening but into the future when it may continue to affect staff."
Another troubling response was, "My stress levels are sky high, but I don't feel I can talk to other staff members, as I don't want to feel like I am incapable of doing my job."
Fortunately, these cries for help haven't gone unnoticed. A number of resources have been established to provide much-needed support, primarily by nursing organizations whose members have firsthand experience with what nurses are going through.
ANA Enterprise Offers Library of COVID-19 Resources
The ANA Enterprise encompasses the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Nurses Foundation. This umbrella organization has created a COVID-19 Resource Center on its website, featuring educational materials, clinical information, ethical guidelines and ways anyone can get involved. Individuals who have recovered from the virus can donate plasma as one of many volunteer opportunities.
Another section lists the latest legislative, regulatory and state information surrounding COVID-19 and ways to contact members of Congress. There's even a quick link button to write to representatives or senators and appeal for federal resources to fund hazard pay and mental health support.
Sadly, many nurses have died during the pandemic. The ANA site has set up a tribute page to "remember our fallen healing heroes." It may not ease the heartache family members, friends and colleagues are experiencing, but it's imperative to recognize the service of these nurses.
American Nurses Foundation Establishes Well-Being Initiative
As part of ANA Enterprise, the American Nurses Foundation launched the Well-Being Initiative in partnership with the ANA, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). This program offers support services like "Nurses Together: Connecting Through Conversations," providing a safe space for open dialog on issues inherent in the field.
Additional tools include a couple of different apps: Moodfit, which focuses on self-care, and Happy, which has been adapted especially to help nurses manage stress, anxiety, fear and isolation.
NursingCenter Provides Free Access to Webinars, Podcasts and More
Lippincott NursingCenter's coronavirus resources page includes a wealth of information, from webinars and blog posts to podcasts. Found on the site are free posters and infographics, as well as pocket cards designed to offer nurses "vital reminders needed to provide safe, effective care during the COVID-19 pandemic." The cards, which cover over 40 unique topics, are also free to NursingCenter members.
General Help for Mental Health Concerns
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has also dedicated a portion of its website to provide COVID-19 guidance. While not specific to nurses, the information guide contains important resources that may be helpful all the same.
One such section, "I Really Need to Talk with Someone Right Now. Who Can I Reach Out To?" lists a number of organizations, providing links to their websites and crisis hotline numbers. The NAMI resource site may also prove valuable for anyone in a nurse's life, as many outside the profession are also struggling.
There's No Shame in Asking for Help
The effects of the pandemic will continue to reverberate within the medical community. Nurses may face long-lasting mental health concerns, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
These various resources encourage nurses to reach out for help, and they should never feel like they're somehow inadequate for doing so.
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