Nurses report persistent mental health issues for third straight year

Nurses continue to report persistent mental health issues, Trusted Health says third annual reporta trend that has been growing since 2020.

Among more than 2,500 nurses who responded to an online survey emailed in May, one in 10 said they had had suicidal thoughts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the majority reporting feelings of exhaustion work (75%), compassion exhaustion (66%), depression (64%), declining physical health (64%) and extreme feelings of trauma, extreme stress and/or PTSD (50%).

Additionally, 50% reported being “verbally abused, bullied or assaulted” by a patient or patient’s family member, and 22% reported being “physically abused, bullied or assaulted” by a patient or a family member of a patient.

Most concerning is that they keep silent about these thoughts and issues, said Dani Bowie, DNP, RN, vice president of clinical strategy and transformation at Trusted Health.

Nearly 60% of respondents said it was “very unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” to share their suicidal thoughts or mental health issues with a manager or other colleague at their facility.

When asked why they wouldn’t share their issues, 72% said they were concerned about confidentiality, 69% expressed concerns about job security, 64% expected their employers are not addressing the issue and 44% feared it would impact their nursing care. Licence.

Importantly, the report also noted that “nurses’ mental health has not rebounded to near pre-COVID levels, even as we enter a new, less destructive phase of the pandemic.”

On a scale of 1 to 10, nurses rated their current mental health and well-being an average of 5.8, compared to an average of 7.8 before the pandemic, a drop of 26%. However, this indicated a “very modest improvement” over results for 2020 and 2021, which showed a decline of 28% and 29%, respectively.

Bowie acknowledged that improving the mental health and well-being of frontline workers was not a priority before the pandemic. “So as the pandemic hit, and [nurses] were taking care of patients, they were seeing an increase in mortality…and then they were going home and often self-isolating for fear of being exposed to family and loved ones.”

All of this aggravated a “pre-existing condition … and health systems were not ready to handle such a drastic crisis,” she added.

Commitment to Nursing

About 95% of nurses surveyed said the healthcare industry has not made mental health a priority. Overall, 69% rated themselves as “somewhat dissatisfied”, “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the level of mental health support provided by their facility.

The problem, Bowie said, is that “they just feel like nothing’s being done to really fix the problem…it’s like, ‘why do I have to share this if the healthcare system or my employer is not going to do anything to change, even if I talk about it?'”

More than 60% of respondents said they were less engaged in nursing than they were before the pandemic – a 39% increase from the 2021 survey.

Asked about their future career plans, 34% said they were “actively seeking” employment outside of the bedside or outside of the nursing profession, and a further 21% said they planned to do so in the future. next year. Three percent of respondents said they planned to retire from the workforce and 39% said they were not looking for a job away from the bedside or the profession, but might “at some point” .

A call to action

“Our concern is early retirement. Our concern is bringing in a workforce that is not supporting. So I think it’s critical that we continue to support our frontline nurses, so that we have a pipeline healthy and that we have a healthy workforce that can take care of an aging population that we see looming on the horizon,” Bowie noted.

To that end, the survey is a call to action for health systems, urging them to evaluate the programs they have in place and determine how best to use resources and time, so that more frontline nurses are not leaving the profession.

The survey specifically asked nurses what benefits they would like to receive and what benefits their employer currently offers. Respondents indicated that they would welcome interventions such as individual counselling, peer support programs, mindfulness meditation, and access to a mental health or crisis line.

Just over half of respondents said one-on-one counseling or therapy would be “most beneficial,” but only 18% said such benefits are currently available. Almost a quarter said they would benefit from peer support programs, but only 13% said their employers currently offer such programs.

Nurses are also looking to their employers to meet their physical health needs, Bowie said. Three-quarters of respondents said they would benefit from a wellness allowance and 67% said they would benefit from access to a gym, yoga studio or fitness classes.

“Nurses are also looking for flexible hours or staffing options. This is another way to provide opportunity and control over their work environment,” Bowie noted.

When it comes to retaining nurses, “it’s not just about compensation,” she added.

“There are elements of compensation that are important, but it’s also about the environment you work in and being able to have that relationship with your manager… [and] with your team members, and make[ing] make sure you have the right people to do your job. [Those] are going to be just as important and just as powerful in supporting that nurse or keeping her in the work environment,” she said.

Inquiry Details

Of the more than 2,500 nurses who responded to the survey, 88% were women, 38% were between the ages of 30 and 39, and 25% were between the ages of 20 and 29.

Among the various hospital departments, 21% of respondents said they worked in acute care, 21% worked in intensive care and 14% worked in the emergency room.

  • Shannon Firth has reported on health policy as MedPage Today’s Washington correspondent since 2014. She is also a member of the site’s Enterprise & Investigative Reporting team. Follow



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