January 28, 2021 — Today is the 11th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day dedicated to starting conversations and raising awareness about mental health. As we look back on the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic it is important to recognize the significant toll the virus has taken on the emotional and mental well-being of Canadians. Nurses and other health-care professionals, in particular, are facing unprecedented work-related strains due to COVID-19. These pressures will persist long after the pandemic is over as the health system tackles the backlog of delayed care.
Despite the increasing challenges, nurses continue to show incredible leadership as they take care of the public in its time of need. However, nurses need care too. In the first wave of the pandemic, 47% of health-care workers reported in a survey that they needed psychological support; CNA’s own survey in the fall found similar conditions, with over half stating their mental health was fair or worse. Now, as we are into the second wave — with hospitals and intensive care units reaching capacity, continued outbreaks in long-term care homes, and the continued pressure on public health — nurses are facing even more critical fatigue.
CNA is extremely concerned about the burnout and mental wellness of the health-care workforce. Sustainable, accessible, long-term mental health support is needed to protect the well-being of the nursing workforce. There are general mental health supports available, but as laid out in CNA’s mental health key messages [PDF, 158 KB], we are actively advocating for rapid access to no-cost accessible mental health support services that are targeted towards nurses and health-care providers both during the pandemic and long after.
We need to look after our health-care professionals just as they look after us. Immediate investments in multi-faceted mental health interventions, along with secured investment for long-term mental health support, is needed to ensure the nursing workforce remains healthy. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek assistance. You can get help by visiting Wellness Together Canada, which is a federal government program.
Tim Guest, RN, BScN, MBA
About the Canadian Nurses Association
The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing. We represent registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed and registered practical nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and retired nurses across all 13 provinces and territories.
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Canadian Nurses Association