Webinar: Nursing Wellness: Navigating Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery

Current research indicates the mental health of nurses has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Many are still reporting significantly high levels of psychological distress, resulting in clinical symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma, with one in ten experiencing suicidal thoughts. Even more concerning is the fact that most are not seeking mental health care, citing a variety of reasons, including fear of stigma and potential job loss. Perhaps as an alternative form of relief from symptoms, some nurses may be using substances as a form of coping. In fact, other recent studies report that 10-15% of nurses misuse substances at some point in their careers. The American Nurses Association estimates that 6-8% of nurses are using substances to an extent to impair their practice.

Watch the complete replay above of a collaborative webinar hosted by the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN), Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN), and the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA): “Nursing Wellness is Public Protection: Navigating Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery in the Nursing Profession.”

The webinar aimed to shed light on the real struggles nurses face regarding mental health and substance use disorders. It featured inspiring recovery stories from two nurses who reclaimed their lives and careers through recovery services and mental health care. These types of inspiring stories of recovery are made possible by research and community resources.

For instance, the Oregon Wellness Program (OWP) provides healthcare professionals free counseling services. During the pandemic, many nurses benefitted from the OWP, which helped them process their experiences and continue their vital work. In addition, the Oregon Center for Nursing leads research on nursing mental health and well-being through its RN Well-being Project, which addresses occupational stress in healthcare settings and promotes meaningful changes to protect nurses’ mental health.

The Nurse Assistance Network (NAN), hosted by the Oregon Nurses Foundation and ONA, is a resource that helps provide recovery support resources for nurses. NAN includes a response line connecting nurses to help and resources, emphasizing early intervention before workplace impairment occurs.

The webinar underscored the importance of seeking help early without shame or fear. Director Rachel Prusak of the Oregon State Board of Nursing emphasized that nurse wellness is synonymous with public protection. The board’s strategic plan includes promoting wellness among nursing professionals, believing that a healthy nursing workforce ensures a healthy Oregon. For those interested in further details or seeking assistance, visit the OBSN website.

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