Due to the nature of the work, nurses, and midwives as well as students of the professions face significant risks to their psychosocial and physical health and wellbeing.
Increasing natural disasters along with the COVID pandemic have amplified existing workforce challenges and workplace health and safety risks. In recognition of this, the federal government has committed to establish the Nurse and Midwife Health Program Australia (NMHPA) to support nurses, midwives and students nationally.
Here is a run-down on what the NMHPA is and what you can expect from the program when it launches this year.
What is the NMHPA?
When launched NMHPA will be a free, confidential, and independent health program designed, led and provided by nurses and midwives, for nurses and midwives and students.
The program offers compassionate and best practice services to nurses, midwives, and students with a broad range of sensitive health and wellbeing needs.
How is it funded?
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has received grant funding from the Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care to establish the NMHPA. The federal government has invested $25.2 million over five years to deliver the NMHPA.
Who is the program for?
Any nurse, midwife or student experiencing any health issue that is impacting their psychological health. Whether it is drug, alcohol or gambling, stress and burnout, bullying and harassment at work or experiencing a chronic illness or mental health concern, experienced counsellors are on hand to help.
NMHPA also provides information, resources and a pathway of support for employers and managers of nurses and midwives who are experiencing health issues impacting their work.
What can I expect from NMHPA?
NMHPA offers support in a welcoming, compassionate and non-judgemental environment – providing a safe place to connect and support to heal. The peer-led and delivered program will provide nurses, midwives and students with the opportunity to choose and shape their service options, including interventions and treatments.
NMHPA acknowledges the diversity of nurses and midwives and provides person centred, culturally appropriate care – nurses and midwives from around Australia have contributed to the establishment of the service through sharing their stories and in stakeholder focus groups.
Why seek help?
Research shows early intervention increases positive outcomes for those experiencing health issues. Because of the nature of the work that nurses and midwives do and their role as carer, they are often reluctant to seek help. NMHPA is committed to encouraging and promoting help-seeking behaviours within the professions and the wider health sector.
How has it been developed?
NMHPA is modelled on the successful Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria (NMHPV), calibrated to meet jurisdictional needs. The NMHPV was set up in 2007 to offer Victorian nurses and midwives free, confidential and independent peer- led and delivered support. NMHPA’s peer support, counselling and case model approach uses a framework that incorporates prevention, support and intervention- working towards health restoration.
Where does this service fit in with EAPs and other support services that currently exist for nurses and midwives?
NMHPA is an additional complimentary service and potential referral pathway from Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Nurse & Midwife Support, the national 24/7 support service that provides brief intervention counselling and referral pathways.
NMHPA differs to other services in that it offers unlimited sessions, is nurse and midwife specific, is independent from your employer, and offers face-to-face and telehealth services.
How will I be able to access the service?
NMHPA will operate via hubs and regional offices across Australia, delivered in person and via telehealth services to ensure accessibility wherever you are located.
There are four general referral pathways to access the program – self, employer, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (voluntary) and through the union. In addition, a family member or colleague can also make a referral.
You can also reach out through the website and connect via socials when they go live early 2024.
When will the program launch?
The NMHPA will launch in early 2024. A launch date will be released soon through various stakeholder groups including peak nursing and midwifery organisations and the National and State and Territory Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers – so watch this space.