With no nation-wide data on occupational stress injuries in nurses, Denise Dick believes it is difficult to know how much of an impact nurses’ jobs are having on their mental health, but she hopes a newly launched survey will fill that data gap.
As the first vice-president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and a registered nurse, Dick has experienced firsthand the stresses that come with being a nurse.
“Nurses can have higher incidences of not simply the stress, but higher incidences of depression, just anxiety issues, they can have insomnia, they can end up with PTSD symptoms … There can be other occupational stresses that we’re not even aware of that could be affecting their mental health,” she said.
“We do not have statistics that show us truly what the extent of the issues are with our nurses across the country.”
To solve this problem, a first-of-its-kind survey has been launched across Canada, asking nurses to anonymously share the stresses they face at their job and how it impacts them. The survey was created by University of Regina researchers Andrea Stelnicki and Nicholas Carleton in partnership with the Canadian Federation of Nurses.
Stelnicki, a post-doctoral fellow in the U of R’s psychology department, said the survey will give a bigger picture of the stresses facing Canadian nurses, which will in turn help inform what supports and training for the profession should look like.
“We’re hoping to use this to really advocate for better mental health for Canadian nurses,” said Stelnicki.
“They’re experiencing really high rates of burnout, workplace violence and stress, and this has kind of just been a widespread feature of healthcare workplaces across Canada, and it does have the potential to result in cumulative trauma.”
As mental health awareness grows among first responders, Dick said she would like to see nurses included in those conversations.
“That has across the country been something that nurses unions have been really pushing the government to realize — that nurses are first responders. They are very susceptible to PTSD. They might not be the ones out you know at the accident sites like the first responders, but the issues that they’re dealing with … can have that type of effect on a nurse,” she said.
This is exactly what the survey is designed to do, said Stelnicki. Researchers ran a similar survey for first responders and public safety personnel in 2016 and Stelnicki said this survey for nurses was designed in a similar way so that data from the two groups can be compared. Without this comparable data, it is difficult to say if nurses are experiencing similar rates of mental illness, despite also being exposed to cumulative trauma.
While Dick acknowledged that the specific stresses may vary between first responders and nurses, or even between nurses working in different departments, the impacts on mental health are similar. By having national data, she hopes to raise more awareness of mental illness among nurses and see better supports put in place to help them.
Stelnicki hopes at least 5,000 nurses will fill out the survey, which takes around an hour to complete. She encouraged all nurses to participate, regardless of whether they feel they struggle with mental illness or not.
The survey launched in May and will be open to participants until the end of September, with survey results to be processed by the end of the year.
Photo credit: Regina Leader-Post
Source: Regina Leader-Post https://leaderpost.com/news/national/new-national-survey-studying-mental-health-in-nurses-for-first-time