8 Reasons to Focus on Mental Health in May
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health affects all of us. This is a topic that is fortunately becoming more prevalent in the news, at home, and in the work place. For a hospital, mental health directly impacts nurse staffing and quality of patient care. Nurses, like with any other profession, may suffer from an underlying mental health issue or can be afflicted on the job from stress or burnout. This can in turn impact the quality of patient care. On the flip side, a patient may have an underlying mental health problem that may not be detected by a standard medical test. There is unfortunately a stigma associated with mental health that needs to be removed to best serve your employees and your patients. Here are 8 reasons to focus on mental health in May (and throughout the year).
Being a nurse can be the most rewarding experience. It can also be quite demanding, both physically and mentally. Nurses have the opportunity to save lives every single day. On the flip side, depending on the specialty, they may also see an unfortunate amount of death or gruesome injury every day. This can weigh heavily on the mind of a nurse and, over time, could lead to burnout. This is why it is important to keep the lines of communication open between your nurses and their supervisors or other administrators. Provide opportunities for your nurses to speak with mental health specialists whenever they are feeling overwhelmed. Incorporate “mental health days” into your PTO packages. Build relaxation stations in your hospital. Bring in therapy dogs. The important factor is to listen and not brush off employees if they are feeling frazzled.
Nurse Staffing Retention
Nursing shortages are a real problem at hospitals across the country. It is not only important to hire a great nurse, but also to keep them. Any employer who appears insensitive to mental health issues could be in danger of losing their best workers or not having the ability to hire them in the first place. When your nurses are feeling happy and appreciation, they are more likely to stay. They will also be more likely to write positive reviews about their work experience and tell their nursing friends. A great way to hire is through referrals and recommendations from current staff.
Prevent an Emergency
It feels like every other week we turn on the news and learn of a new shooting. We also learn many of these shooters suffer from mental health issues. We may not be able to prevent a shooting, but we can help to recognize when a patient or even a staff member is suffering. Speak with mental health professionals and train your staff to recognize these symptoms. Take a few minutes to speak with a patient about more than their surface injuries or health issues. Have town hall style meetings with the entire staff. Recognizing these symptoms early can allow the doctor or nurse to refer the patient to the proper specialist or just to have a conversation with their family.
Save a Life
On top of all of the shootings we hear about in the news, we have also seen a spike in suicide across the country. Often these victims are described as the happiest people in the world before they decide to take their own lives. Learn the proper way to listen to a patient when they appear stressed or depressed. The same goes for your nurses. Do not shrug off when a nurse appears to be at their breaking point. It can be just one positive conversation that is the reason someone decides not to end their own life.
Go above and beyond in patient care
Patient care is just like any other customer service field. Building authentic connections with your patients is essential to the sustainability of your organization. When you don’t just check a series of boxes, you show your patients how much you truly care about their health. Bedside manner is art form and can often be taken for granted. Even if not in an official clinical sense, make sure your doctors and nurses engage with their patients beyond the necessary treatment. Whenever a patient can feel better mentally, they can be more likely to feel better physically as well.
Become a leader in the industry
Adding a focus of mental health to your overall treatment plans can set your facility apart as an industry leader. This can lead to a series of papers written about your facility as well as positive public relations. You can become a “go-to” expert for the local or national news media on the subject of mental health. This can lead to positive results for recruitment, funding, and overall patient care. You may even be asked to speak at local and/or national events about how you are on the cutting edge of mental health.
There are several non-profits as well as private specialists you can partner with to refer your patients for help. This will help your standing in the community you serve. You can refer to psychiatrists, psychologists, physical therapists, mental health clinics, and more. Solving the mental health crisis will take a collaboration and commitment of public and private organizations.
Encourage future nurses
Showing your commitment to bringing awareness to mental health can encourage the next generation of nurses. Many young men and women may be cautious to pursue a career in nursing, especially if they currently have underlying mental health issues. Establishing a proactive environment on mental health can put these future medical professionals at ease. Knowing they will have the support they need will make them more likely to join your facility.
Looking for nurses to join your team?
Contact MedPro Healthcare Staffing! We work with our clients to find and place highly qualified travel nurses who match with your hospital culture and job qualifications. To learn more, contact one of our experienced recruiters today!