The Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria (NMHPV) has encouraged Victorian nurses, midwives, carers and students experiencing anxiety, stress and fatigue following months of battling COVID-19 and living under lockdown restrictions to contact the service if they need support on today’s R U OK? Day and beyond.
The NMHPV is a free, confidential and independent service offering support, counselling and referral to other services as necessary.
Led by nurses and midwives with qualifications in mental health and drug and alcohol counselling, the service also provides a safe space for Victorian nurses, midwives, carers and students to discuss family violence issues.
The NMHPV says Victorian nurses, midwives, graduates and carers have reported experiencing anxiety, stress and fatigue triggered by working and living amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a survey about the NMHPV sent to members of the ANMF (Victorian Branch), 43% said the main barrier that prevented them seeking support was the belief they should be able to cope.
The NMHPV says hundreds of Victorian nurses and carers have contracted COVID-19 and been furloughed, while many have also experienced the grief of residents they care for in nursing homes dying from COVID-19.
Responding to a question about how working with COVID-19 had impacted them, nurses and midwives and carers reported:
- Nothing to look forward to anymore. Feeling low level sadness all the time.
- Sleeping badly.
- The ongoing level of stress at work and at home and no rest from the high stress levels have caused physical and emotional exhaustion.
- Too concerned about my family when working, especially on COVID-19 ward. Stress after coming from work. Increased weight and isolated from relatives and friends.
- We are providing round the clock emotional support for (aged care) residents who are missing their families, with little to no support for ourselves in the same position.
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in Victoria, the Andrews government provided $600,000 in additional funding to the NMHPV to meet increased demand and extend the service to personal care workers in residential aged care.
NMHPV CEO Glenn Taylor, who says nurses and midwives are notoriously reluctant to seek support for themselves, urged them and residential aged care workers not to wait until a tipping point’ event occurs, such as a serious health issue or burnout.
“Our nurses, midwives and residential aged care workers have been incredible throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but they are hurting.”
“There is no shame in seeking support and no issue is too big or too small for NMHPV to handle.
“Nurses, midwives and personal care workers take the care of their patients and residents seriously. We’re here to support them in taking care of themselves in this unprecedented time of demand on our professions and on our mental health.”
Nurse & Midwife Support, a 24/7 national telephone service, is also available on 1800 667 877 or visit www.nmsupport.org.au