Each year millions of Americans experience living with mental health issues. Raising awareness and reducing the stigma about mental health is especially important during this pandemic. Health care heroes caring for critically-ill patients, comforting families of loved ones suffering in isolation and fearing bringing the virus home to their families is taking a toll on their mental wellbeing. The unfortunate reality is physicians and nurses already suffered from high rates of depression, burnout, addiction and suicide before the COVID-19 outbreak.

While we continue to advocate for resources to protect the physical health of clinicians and staff, we are also advocating for resources to support their mental health. The AHA’s American Organization for Nursing Leadership joined their fellow nursing organizations in urging the White House and Congress to include funding for mental health resources for health care workers in supplemental COVID-19 legislation.

There are many ways to address mental wellbeing, including mindfulness and stress reduction; crisis support; and, if needed, therapy and/or medication. The AHA created its COVID-19 Stress and Coping Resources webpage to share strategies and resources on managing mental well-being during this pandemic. The website contains resources for clinical staff to manage their own mental health as well as information for behavioral health care providers and the community.

It is important we care for ourselves so we can care for others.
 

Robyn Begley is AHA senior vice president and chief nursing officer and CEO of the American Organization for Nursing Leadership.

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