Have you completed more overtime lately than you want to admit? When was the last time you slept for 7-9 hours consistently without help? Has the only social outlet you’ve had in the last few months has been chatting to fellow nurses in the tea room? Do you feel tired, deflated and burntout?
The rollercoaster of this pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of nurses in ways that we have never experienced before. Feeling isolated, numb, lost and exhausted is part of every person's emotions, but it’s what we do about these feelings that matters. We can’t stress enough how important your mental health is! Read on to explore the mental health services available specifically for nurses living in NSW should you feel like help is required.
Looking after yourself and your mental health as an agency nurse is imperative to prevent burnout but to also increase resilience and control over your life and all its moving parts. But sometimes we need a reminder to concentrate on ourselves and that’s exactly what the month of October is. It’s Mental Health Awareness Month! Now is the time to focus on you and what is really important.
1. Medicare Services
Medicare will now offer 20 subsidised sessions of psychological care, an increase from the standard 10 sessions prior to COVID. Though speaking to a psychologist may seem daunting for some nurses who have never “spoken to somebody” before, there is no shame in wanting to be heard.
To access these services, take the following steps;
a.Go and see your GP requesting a Mental Health Care Plan. (As a heads up, when you’re booking the appointment request a long consultation as the paperwork can take longer than the standard 15 minutes.)
b.Find a psychologist. If you are new to this, using Google reviews, recommendations from friends and family and also from your GP can be very helpful. Just keep in mind that a lot of psychologists have special areas of interest and research such as depression, PTSD and anxiety so look at these when making enquiries if necessary. If you’re overwhelmed for choice, talk to your GP.
c.Make an appointment. Due to COVID the appointment may occur over a web based video call. Though not “normal” it may lower feelings of anxiety being in your own home. If you find a psychologist you like, book in a few sessions as future appointments may be hard to secure.
d.Upon payment time, the Medicare rebate will be deducted, so depending on the cost of the session you will receive a substantial amount, if not all, back in your pocket.
2. Nurse and Midwife support
Nurse & Midwife Support (NM Support) is a national telephone and online service to offer health support to nurses and midwives in Australia. It is free, confidential and available 24/7. If you are concerned about your own mental health or that of a colleague this is a terrific service not spoken about often enough.
Nurse & Midwife Support Websiteis where you can request support via email or simply call 1800 667 877.
3. Black Dog Institute
Black Dog Institute is a proudly independent not-for-profit medical research institute investigating mental health across your lifespan, with the aim to create a mentally healthier world for everyone.
They offer a program called TEN - The Essential Network for Health Professionals which makes accessing mental health support and resources quick, easy and private. The website and mobile app was developed as part of the Australian Governments response to COVID-19 and it’s well worth a look - TEN Program.
4. NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA)
The NSWNMA is the registered union for all nurses and midwives in New South Wales, working in conjunction with Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF). As a member, you receive access to endless mental health support and resources most members don’t realise are available to them.
Log on to the members portal via the website to explore what is available and even contact them directly if you need immediate support.
NSWNMA - Member Log on page
5. Beyond Blue
Beyond Blue is an amazing Australian mental health and wellbeing support organisation. They provide support programs and resources to people going through mental health issues such as depression, suicide, anxiety disorders and other related mental illnesses.
Their comprehensive website, app and 24/7 phone support means you have help whenever you need it most. Within the Beyond Blue Website there are countless forums relating to nurses and first responders who are suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety which are very real, honest and informative. Check out the forums here.
● Smiling Mind - (Targeting youth mental health)
● Life Line - (A national charity providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services).
● ACON - (Helping the LGBTI community and people with HIV take control of their mental health)
● Employee Assist Programme (EAP) - (Confidential counselling support)
● Mental Health Line (Professional, confidential mental health advice available to everyone in NSW 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In summary, this year the healthcare sector nationwide has asked for monumental input from nurses. Work with COVID positive patients, be constantly put in a position to work overtime whilst also managing the stressors at home. The mental load you may be carrying needs to be unpacked and there is no shame in seeking help. Look after yourself!
Emma Smith (Guest Blogger)
Co-founder The Other Shift