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Nursing Times launched a new campaign – Covid-19: Are you OK? – on 8 April to highlight the mental health pressures and needs of nurses during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
Concerns around lack of equipment, heightened staff shortages, coping with deployment, the risks posed to staff themselves and their friends and families and the death of colleagues have all taken their toll, as will the lockdown while not at work and a range of other factors.
The Covid-19 crisis has also exacerbated existing pressures on nurse mental health, most notably short staffing. As a result, the stress of the crisis has potentially been laid on top of an already stressed workforce.
A recent Nursing Times survey of 3,500 nurses undertaken for the campaign found that 33% of respondents rated their overall mental health and wellbeing as “bad” or “very bad” and 50% described themselves as “a lot” more anxious or stressed since the pandemic.
In addition, it revealed nurses’ concerns around access to personal protective equipment, contracting Covid-19, being redeployed and witnessing the death of patients without family present.
Mental health of clinicians during the crisis has also been flagged by academic surveys involving the RCN, the Laura Hyde Foundation, the British Medical Association and Prince William among others.
Aims of the Covid-19: Are You OK? campaign:
- Raise and maintain awareness of the issues affecting the mental wellbeing of nursing staff before, during and in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis
- Highlight that many of the factors that have contributed to mental ill health during to the Covid-19 crisis were already problems creating stress for nursing staff, such as short staffing and nurses feeling guilty that they have not met the needs of their patients
- Act as a barometer on the overall mental health of nursing staff by monitoring and measuring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and other stressors, for example, through surveys and nurses’ narratives
- Encourage health and social care employers and educational institutions to make a pledge to support their nursing staff’s and students’ mental health
- Promote the issue of nurse mental health via Nursing Times and its events, as well as externally, for example via social media, national media and other means
- Share best practise on supporting mental health and wellbeing among nursing staff
- Develop an online hub collating resources and support provided by other organisations