Authors

  1. Section Editor(s): Raso, Rosanne DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Article Content

I'm struck by the outpouring of concern over healthcare workers' mental health now that we've been through multiple pandemic waves. I'm also worried that we may be so focused on our staff that we're ignoring ourselves and each other. Nurse leaders seem to have been the forgotten heroes. We need caring for our own emotional well-being.

  
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The results of our 2020 Wellness Survey are in this month's issue (see page 26). The timing was around the first COVID-19 wave in the US. Although sources of stress and joy were similar to the last survey in 2017, 80% of over 400 respondents indicated that they had more stress than a year ago. Of course, we're stressed! I'm sure that doesn't surprise you.

 

A colleague of mine wrote in Becker's Hospital Review last fall that we have to change our "suck it up" culture, ask "How are you?," and actually listen for the real answer. The feelings we have after all we've been through are either hiding somewhere or we're too conditioned to "suck it up" and not mention them. Even Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, writes about it from a different perspective, using "Are you okay?" as the question to ask, and mean it. Can we look out for each other? We must.

 

Another emotion that nurse leaders are feeling is guilt. Rose Sherman, editor of Nurse Leader, wrote about all the reasons she has heard as to why we're feeling guilty as we try to support staff through the challenges. Maybe you've felt guilt as you waded through PPE shortages, staffing issues, furloughs, and the long list of problems you're facing. She concludes that "feeling guilty when you have done the best you can do is a shame you should not carry." I'd like to heed that advice myself. We may not have all the answers, but we can do our very best, using everyday courage (as Joe Tye and Bob Dent said in last month's issue) to keep us-and our mental health-as strong as we need to be.

 

I saw a phrase in a recent Journal of Nursing Administration issue: "psychological first aid" (PFA). At first, I thought it was a clever title for what we all need these days trying to cope with the pandemic's emotional toll, but then I discovered that it's actually a well-established military model for psychological support after a crisis. There are helpful principles of PFA, including linkage with services. Let's not make believe that we don't need help with coping. Many organizations have added various psychological support services and resilience-building resources. Use them!

 

For those of you who are believers in Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring as I am, let's apply those Caritas processes and authentically listen to each other's stories, nurturing caring relationships. Caring isn't just about patients and families, it's about leadership too, as well as caring for each other and ourselves.

 

Ask "How are you?" and mean it. Listen. Don't suck it up. Find resources and PFA. There's hope and recovery once you open yourself to it and help your colleagues. We all need a path to both physical and emotional wellness. Don't be afraid of it; be courageous and face it. Our staff members are depending on us.

 

NURSING.MANAGEMENT@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM

  
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