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Study highlights pandemic’s toll on nurses’ mental health, well-being

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San Francisco — Mental health and well-being among nurses has declined significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, results of a recent study show.

Trusted Health, an online jobs platform, in April conducted an online survey of 1,425 U.S. nurses to understand the impacts of the pandemic on the profession. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the respondents said they provide direct care to patients with COVID-19.

According to a May 4 press release citing previous studies, nurses are at an increased risk of suicide and have been experiencing burnout rates at an all-time high, while most report being in suboptimal mental or physical health. On top of that, the pandemic has led to high volumes of seriously ill patients and shortages of personal protective equipment at health care facilities.

Using a scale of 1-10, nurses rated their current mental health and well-being at an average of 5.4, compared with 7.6 before the pandemic – a 29% decline.

 

Results show that 63.2% of the respondents believe health care employers don’t prioritize or support nurses’ mental health and well-being. Another 31.2% say employers make it a priority but have inadequate measures in place to support nurses’ needs.

Contracting the disease is a major worry: 67% of survey participants said they’re “concerned” or “extremely concerned” about becoming ill while doing their jobs.

Other findings:

  • On a scale of 1-10, the nurses’ average rating of the mental health support at their facility is 4.8.
  • 33.8% said they’re more proud to be a nurse than they were before the pandemic.
  • 40.1% remain committed to nursing, but will explore a new role or department.

Trusted Health says participation in wellness programs and structural changes in health care, most importantly effective staffing systems, are crucial. In addition, more crisis support, cognitive/behavioral skills building, and mindfulness techniques can be beneficial.

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