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The Impact of the Global Pandemic on Nurses

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

"Just get on it", a phrase thought by millions of nurses during the height of the pandemic. The detrimental effect on the mental health of our healthcare providers is something rarely spoken about. Still, it is all too real for the thousands living with stress, anxiety, and depression daily.

Even before the pandemic, nurses were under a lot of stress; with much-needed nurses leaving the profession and tightening budgets, many nurses felt the strain—the primary contact between patients, families, and doctors. Taking on the daily care tasks, medications, and providing comfort and compassion while trying to look after themselves and their families eventually takes its toll.


Many nurses have expressed a lack of proper support for their mental health during the pandemic, and while some services were set up, these were often inflexible and inaccessible when on shift. The impact on nurse's mental health

A recent study found that one-third of nurses feel their mental health was 'bad' or 'very bad' with concerns including the lack of PPE, contracting the virus themselves, and this impact on family and friends. Many nurses report high levels of stress, and almost one-quarter of sickness absence for nursing staff is due to anxiety, stress, depression, or other psychiatric illness.

Nurses have reported that they felt lonely and isolated during the pandemic and knew everyone was suffering the same stresses, so they did not want to burden others with their struggles. Bottling up emotion in this way has added to the overall decline in nurses' mental health.

Since the initial lockdown, many organizations and providers have pledged to support nurses and look after their well-being.


 

Samantha story

Samantha had been a nurse for nearly a decade, and while she had had her fair share of challenging situations, the pandemic elevated everything to a whole new level. Never before had she felt so overwhelmed, and "Just get it done" had become her daily mantra. Samantha continued to report for work every day despite her worry and tiredness. She did her best to care for her patients and encourage her coworkers, but her mental health was suffering as a result. She felt alone and isolated, unable to communicate her troubles to others experiencing the same thing. Samantha received an email from the human resources department of her hospital one day. It described the new mental health services established to assist personnel during the pandemic. Samantha was initially hesitant. She had previously received assurances of assistance, but it never manifested when she most it. Yet, as Samantha read the email, she felt a spark of hope. The services included flexible appointment scheduling and a variety of assistance choices, such as counselling and mindfulness classes. Samantha decided to book her first appointment. Samantha attended her sessions over the subsequent weeks and gradually began to feel more like herself. She learned how to manage her stress levels and emphasize self-care and appreciated her healthcare organization's assistance. Samantha recognized, after consideration, that she had neglected her mental health for far too long. She knew she was not alone in her feelings and hoped other nurses would seek the necessary support. The epidemic served as a wake-up call for Samantha, who realized that caring for her mental health was equally vital to caring for her patients.

How can you start to heal from the trauma of the pandemic?

There are various ways to start your healing journey after the mental trauma of Covid. These include paid therapy as well as developing your well-being skills.

Below we have compiled a list of ways to start healing from your experiences at home:

● Don't isolate yourself - Make sure to keep in contact with family and friends. Share your experiences and emotions, and you may find others are feeling the same. Exercise- Exercise is well known to be one of the most effective ways to relieve stress and process traumatic experiences. Try walking and gentle stretching to get you started. Listen to Your Body- while exercise is essential, so is listening to your body and resting when you need to. Take part in activities that make you happy, whether this is taking a long bubble bath or going out for a meal with friends. ● Get Back Into Your Routine- Returning to your daily routines after a traumatic event can help you regain control over your life and experiences. Meditation- Meditation is a great way to help you deal with stress; it can take a little while to develop your skills, but focusing on deep breathing and various body parts while you meditate can help keep you from thinking about your stress and worries. Celebrate Life- the gratitude of family and friends; enjoy spending time with them to help you heal.

 



 

Nurses' Mental Health: A Silent Pandemic Within the Pandemic"



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