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Black nurses seek mental health support during pandemic



For some people, no care provided by Thompson can prevent them from being transferred to the intensive care unit.

Thompson said: “Sometimes, because of the unknown, I am afraid to go to work.” “Am I going to be a good nurse for the patient? Will I make mistakes?”

Maysa Akbar, chief diversity officer of the American Psychological Organization, said nurses are usually the first medical professionals that patients will see, and most nurses maintain a lot of contact with patients throughout the care process. According to data from the American Mental Health Association, in addition to the pressures they face as medical professionals, blacks are generally more likely to feel sad, hopeless, and worthless than whites.
Black nurses also died of the virus at a disproportionate rate. According to National Nurses United, as of September, almost 18% of American nurses who died of Covid-19 and related complications were black, but blacks accounted for only 12% of the total number of nurses.

Thompson said that sometimes she said she was “completely defeated” and went home, so in those days, she gave herself a room to deal with her emotions by talking with her family and watching TV.

Thompson said: “If I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to turn around and go back to the next shift to become a good nurse.”

So far, she has not sought professional mental health support.

Black adults face mental health challenges

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2019, more than 17% of black adults in the United States suffered from mental illness. But Cheryl Taylor, dean of the School of Nursing at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said that people in black communities have difficulty accessing mental health services.

She said it’s important to feel safe when opening up to mental health care professionals, and it’s not easy for blacks who have not historically been respected by the mental health world.

Sharonda Kelly, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said that blacks generally receive lower quality mental health care. According to the American Psychological Association, they are also less likely to receive cultural care.

Kelly suggested that one way to increase black people’s access to quality mental health care is to see mental health professionals of the same race.

A client may think: “This person may be able to understand what I have experienced and may not see me as inferior.”

She said this can be difficult because it is much easier to find the preferences of male or female psychologists than to choose a color. According to APA data, as of 2015, only 4% of American psychologists are black.
Continue to pay attention to children's mental health in this pandemic

Akbar said it’s also important for therapists to talk about racism and discrimination.

If patients “do not talk about racism as one of the driving factors leading to depression at the beginning, then we will ignore a huge part of the treatment process,” Akbar said.

Taylor listened to the struggles her nursing students experienced during hands-on practice in the hospital, while overcoming the difficulties of the pandemic. She said one of her students told her: “I am not used to dealing with death and death. Today I lost four patients.”

She saw that nurses and students were learning to become nurses. They would suffer from compassion fatigue, stress and exhaustion, and these pains came from helping those in need.

Taylor said that black women as nurses also face the stereotype that “a strong black woman is super resilient.”

Taylor said: “Yes, we are strong, but not so strong, we don’t need help.”

Nurse Mental Health Program

In December last year, the National Association of Black Nurses launched RE: SET, a free mental health program for nurses. The executive director of the program, Millicent Gorham, said the goal of the program is to teach nurses how to relieve stress in a healthy way and link it to mental health resources.

The program contains a series of videos and podcasts, provided around reducing stress and seeking professional help when you need it, free for everyone.

NBNA members can enjoy the additional benefits of free consulting services. Every health problem faced by nurses received five free training sessions.

If nurses need to communicate with mental health professionals during their breaks to “vent steam just because they see too much in the hospital,” they can make unlimited calls and text messages, Gorham said.

Trilby Barnes, a nurse in New Orleans, said she participated in a free consultation after trying to stay resilient during the pandemic.

Barnes said: “Let down your vigilance and listen to what others will suggest you do for you. This is very healthy.”

Feeling sad about chronic diseases and what has been lost

She serves as a telephone triage nurse, listening to people’s health needs and instructing them what to do next. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Barnes said the number of calls she received has soared.

People would call her “pure panic mode” and worry that they might have Covid-19 symptoms. Barnes said that although people depend on it for their lives, little is known about the virus at the beginning of the pandemic, but it is difficult to provide reasonable advice.

Find time to take care of yourself

When Thompson took care of her first Covid-19 patient after graduation, she turned to a nurse. She said: “I really don’t know how to take care of this patient, because this is what we learned in nursing school. s things.”

She said that you never know what will happen to your patients, they may decline rapidly. Thompson said this made her realize the importance of being a compassionate and caring nurse.

Thompson said: “I may be one of the last people these patients see, and I think that blows me up.”

Thompson said that she has been seeking mental health support in the past, but browsing these resources for the first time can be “overwhelming,” which prompts her not to take the first step.

Taylor said nurses should not hesitate to seek mental health support when they need it, because it means they are practicing their preaching as nurses.

Cheryl Taylor said: “Please allow yourself to be as compassionate to yourself as others.”


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