In the realm of healthcare, the spotlight on mental health has never been more intense — especially within nursing practice. With the backdrop of a global pandemic exacerbating the pressures on an already high-intensity role, the focus on mental health in nursing is both a necessity and a challenge.

This article explores the impact of mental health on nursing performance, the current state of mental health support for nurses, the potential pathways to improve this critical aspect of healthcare and how programs like the online Registered Nursing (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Eastern Michigan University (EMU) give students the skills to recognize and address mental health concerns.

Significance of Mental Health Among Nursing Professionals

Nurses stand on the frontline of healthcare, often serving as patients’ first point of contact. Their role encompasses physical care as well as the emotional and psychological support crucial for patient recovery.

A joint report from the American Nurses Foundation and McKinsey & Company highlights a concerning trend: Nurses routinely face job-related stress and symptoms of burnout, a situation significantly worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges underline the urgent need for mental health support within this vital workforce.

Mental Health Concerns for Nursing Professionals

The mental well-being of nurses directly influences their ability to provide optimal patient care. The same report mentioned above reveals that nearly two-thirds of nurses are not receiving sufficient mental health support, and 56% believe there is a stigma associated with mental health challenges in their profession. This lack of support and the prevailing stigma jeopardize the health of nurses and the quality of patients’ care.

The interconnection between mental and physical health is a key area of focus in nursing practice. Stress, anxiety and burnout among nurses can lead to decreased efficiency, compassion fatigue and errors in patient care.

Conversely, nurses who receive adequate mental health support can provide better care, exhibit more empathy and maintain a higher level of professional satisfaction. This synergy between a nurse’s mental well-being and patient care quality is a testament to the holistic nature of healthcare.

Collaborative Care and Support Systems in Nursing Practice

The shortage of mental health specialists, even in high-income countries, necessitates a task-sharing approach in healthcare. This strategy involves nurses, nurse assistants and pharmacologists stepping into roles traditionally filled by doctors.

Such an approach highlights nurses’ critical role in bridging the gap in mental healthcare and underscores the necessity of their own well-being for the efficiency of the healthcare system. For that to be successful, however, nurses need continuous support.

Improving the mental health support system for nurses involves addressing the stigma associated with mental health issues, providing accessible and effective mental health resources and fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes well-being.

EMU’s online RN to BSN program is an excellent example of how educational institutions can equip nurses with the foundational knowledge and skills to adapt to patients’ complex healthcare needs, including mental health.

Enhancing Nursing Practice Through Education

EMU’s online RN to BSN program emphasizes the importance of mental health in nursing practice. The curriculum provides nurses with advanced knowledge in patient care, including the ability to navigate mental health issues. This education prepares nurses to not only better support their patients but also implement self-care strategies that safeguard their own mental well-being.

This program provides immense flexibility for nursing students, offering multiple start dates per year and pay-per-course tuition. The online setting and option for an expedited timeline (completion of the program in as few as 12-24 months) are additional benefits.

Well-Being for All

The increasing focus on mental health in nursing reflects the evolving understanding of healthcare as a holistic endeavor that concerns physical and mental well-being. The challenges highlighted by recent studies and the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the need for a systemic change in how nurses receive mental health support.

Through collaborative care, improved support systems and educational programs like EMU’s online RN to BSN, the nursing profession can continue to advance and meet the complex healthcare needs of society, ensuring both the well-being of patients and the nurses who care for them. This comprehensive approach to mental health in nursing promises better patient outcomes and a healthier, more resilient nursing workforce capable of facing the demands of modern healthcare with knowledge, empathy and strength.

Learn more about Eastern Michigan University’s online Registered Nursing to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.