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Health care workers and mental health: NIOSH requests information

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Washington — NIOSH is seeking input as it moves to develop a national awareness and education campaign focused on safeguarding and improving the mental health and well-being of health service workers.

According to a Request for Information published in the Sept. 27 Federal Register, NIOSH is looking for information and comments on current evidence-based, occupational safety and health interventions that help prevent work-related stress, support stress reduction and foster positive mental health among workers in health fields. In addition, the agency is seeking information on best practices, promising practices and successful programs on stress prevention and mental health services.

Workers who provide health services, such as first responders, nurses, physicians and lab clinicians, often work long or irregular shifts, are exposed to human suffering and death, and face increased risk of direct exposure to diseases and other harms. In a press release, NIOSH notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified these challenges and brought about greater concerns regarding burnout, depression, anxiety, compassion fatigue, substance use disorders and suicidal ideation.

 

The campaign, for which NIOSH has received funding to develop as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will be aimed at raising awareness of mental health concerns and reducing the stigma of seeking and receiving care.

“Health workers play a vital role in our health, as well as the health of our families and communities, and many put the needs of their patients and others above their own needs,” NIOSH Director John Howard said in the release. “Through this initiative, we will work to improve the safety and well-being for the 20 million workers who devote their lives to helping others.”

The deadline to comment on the RFI is Nov. 26.

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