Helping the Helpers: A mental check for healthcare workers experiencing anxiety on frontlines

Health

(WTNH) — They’re honest thoughts that go through the minds of people in healthcare.

“It’s that conflict from the point where the job you want to do, the reason you got into it, conflicts with what you’re able to do,” said John Brady, who has been a nurse for 21 years.

Nicole Davis, an RN at Midstate Medical Center, has 1 year under her belt as a nurse. “I was driving home and I was like ‘do I still want to be a nurse’, I was like ‘I don’t know if I could take this.'”

They work for hours, sometimes with no break. But they all have reasons why they got into this business.

“When I was in high school, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, so just seeing him go through the surgery and what their nurses did for him and our family, I knew I wanted to do the same thing and help other families,” Davis said.

Davis and Brady admit the job—though rewarding—can affect your mental health.

“The stories of being the only one there holding the iPad so that their loved one so they could say goodbye to their loved ones and then having that happen several times a shift in some hospitals. A normal human being would have trouble with that,” Brady said.

Davis had to do it. — “I had a patient with Covid who is dying and I had to go in the room and FaceTime the family members as they were saying goodbye to their loved ones.”

According to a new study from the University of Michigan, female nurses are about twice as likely to die by suicide compared to women who aren’t nurses.

They’re also reportedly 70% more likely to die by suicide than female doctors.

This current study doesn’t include data from the pandemic—meaning numbers could be even higher. So here’s a mental check for healthcare workers from one of their own:

Davis said, “I think that communication about mental health is super important. I think it should be talked about and not hidden, so I do talk about it with other nurse friends. We try to get together at least once in a while and be like normal people. But, I do go to the gym, I do work out, I try to eat healthy, and all the stuff does help with your mental health. Talk about it with managers and everything. So, there are things you can do definitely to help a stressful environment.”

Throughout the month, News 8 is partnering with Mental Health Connecticut. If you need information or to be connected to services, call toll-free 1-800–842-1501, or visit www.mhconn.org to learn more or make a donation to help others.

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