World Mental Health Day 2021 – “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality!”

World Mental Health Day 2021 – “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality!”

Posted on October 8, 2021

In two years of pandemic, many things have changed! COVID-19, still with us, highlighted lots of society issues and difficulties in different fields, including nursing. On the occasion of the “World Mental Health Day“, it is important to highlight how severely the nurses’ mental health has been tested due to increasingly complex situations and less favorable working conditions during this ongoing crisis. 30% of the EU nurses already left the nursing profession! It is therefore time to reflect on this and start taking care of those who care!

It is clear that the COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on the EU citizens, healthcare systems and, above all, frontline nurses – the biggest healthcare profession dealing with patients daily. Nurses have been doing their job in very poor working conditions, suffering from anxiety and psychological stress, under heavy working shifts and making life-or-death decisions. It is now crucial to take concrete actions.

The European Federation of Nurses Associations (EFN) and Mental Health Europe (MHE) are, therefore, calling the EU institutions, the EU Member States, the health industry and other health stakeholders, to take concrete measures to support the nurses’ mental health:

  1. Put in place national and local programmes to support frontline nurses who are caring for patients to preserve their mental health and prevent psychological trauma.
  2. Combat the stigmatisation of nurses taking care of COVID-19 patients during times of COVID, through official communications and the media.
  3. Foster the co-creation and co-design with frontline nurses, concerning relevant political decision-making processes, including Infectious Disease of High Consequence preparedness, health protocols, training, and the selection of appropriate equipment.
  4. Work closely with the nursing profession to develop policies that protect frontline staff from unnecessarily difficult or unsafe working conditions.
  5. Allocate funds to support frontline nurses. The EU institutions could re-arrange already agreed on budgets to inject funds into the nursing frontline and into nursing research, with the view to be better prepared for future pandemics.
  6. Urgently adopt European comprehensive long-term strategies on mental health, that address among others the needs and situation of frontline nurses in order to ensure coherence with existing policies, legislative and governance frameworks as well as human rights commitments, across the EU.

By applying these six measures, the frontline nurses would be further alleviated from unnecessary stress and mental suffering. There is evidence of increasing risk of burnout, post-traumatic and other stress-related disorders among nurses due to operating under ongoing unprecedented pressure and exposure to the virus.

More than ever, it is crucial to keep our nurses protected from chronic stress and poor mental health. Ensuring their well-being and mental health is key to sustain any pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery. “If we don’t have health, we don’t have anything else”, John Ryan, Director of Public Health, European Commission.